Preparing for a stepparent adoption involves several legal and emotional steps.
Although adoption laws can vary by jurisdiction, you should understand the general process and legal requirements.
Understand the legal requirements
The U.S. Census identified 2,413,441 stepchildren and 1,402,084 adopted children, in 2021, but going from stepparent to adopted parent requires following local laws. Therefore, research the adoption laws in your jurisdiction to understand the specific requirements and procedures. First, determine whether you need the noncustodial biological parent’s consent for the adoption. In many cases, adoption requires the legal termination of the noncustodial parent’s rights.
Obtain consent from the noncustodial parent
If you need the noncustodial parent’s consent, make efforts to obtain it. This may involve communication and possibly legal proceedings if the parent is uncooperative.
Gather necessary documents and file the petition
Collect all relevant legal documents, including the child’s birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decrees and any court orders related to custody and visitation. Then, prepare and file the necessary legal documents to initiate the adoption process. This may include a petition for stepparent adoption.
Home study and background checks
During your home study, a social worker will assess the suitability of the home environment for the child. Both the stepparent and the biological parent may need to undergo background checks as part of the adoption process.
You will need to attend court hearings. During these hearings, the judge will review the case and finalize the adoption if everything is in order.
Notify appropriate authorities
After the judge finalizes the adoption, make sure to update official records, including the child’s birth certificate and other relevant documents.
Once the adoption is complete, celebrate the new family status. Allow time for the family to adjust to the changes and provide emotional support for the child.