Adopting a Stepchild
When parents of a child separate, many of those parents eventually find another person and they end up getting married and starting a new life together. Often, a child is involved in the new relationship and the new member of the family, or the stepparent, may choose to adopt the child that their spouse has from a previous marriage or relationship. In many situations, this can be very beneficial for everyone in the family. The child may feel as if they are once again “connected” to a family unit. The stepparent may feel as if they have a more important role in the of the stepchild. Here, you will find many things that should be considered and done in order to successfully adopt a stepchild.
The first thing that you should do if you are considering adopting the stepchild is to discuss the option with your spouse. It is important that they support your decision. The spouse should be involved in every part of the decision to adopt the stepchild as it is their biological child. The spouse should believe that you adopting your stepchild is the best decision to make based on the circumstances surrounding the new and the old relationship. If they do not think that this is the best decision, you may want to discuss the reasons why and work on those reasons. The issue can then be revisited at a more appropriate time.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild, and your spouse supports that decision, the next step that you should take is discussing the option with the stepchild if they are old enough to understand the proposal that you are making. It is important that the stepchild understands what it will mean if they are adopted by you. They should then be given the choice. Let them know that the decision that they make will be left up to them, and if they decide not to go through with the formal process of adoption that you understand and will continue to love them, and be there for them. Do not pressure your stepchild into making a decision that they do not want to make. You should also allow them some time to play with the idea and make their decision. Do not place them in a position where you are demanding an immediate answer.
You must understand that if you want to adopt your stepchild that the biological parent must consent. If the biological parent is not available for consent, then the court must decide the outcome. If the other parent is found to have abandoned the child, or found to not be in the condition to consent, the court will choose to offer the consent. If the parent is deceased, it is not required to submit consent by the court.
Once you have achieved all the necessary consents, you should seek a lawyer to help you in the process of adopting your stepchild. You should then decide whether the child should take your last name, or should keep their original name. It is important to seek the opinion of the stepchild on this matter as well.