It is true that family can have many different meanings. What is important is that the parents and children within the family feel a sense of love and security. Sure there are ups and downs in raising children but the most significant part of being a parent is showing unconditional love and support. As a stepparent, there are many responsibilities that you take on just by sharing a home with your stepchildren. When the biological parent is not a part of the children’s lives, the most remarkable decision you can make is to legally adopt your partner’s children.
- Consent from birth parent: In order to adopt your partner’s child or children, you are required to obtain written consent from the other birth parent. What does that mean? The birth parent must relinquish all responsibilities and rights as the birth parent of the child or children. If they are currently obligated to paying child support, that obligation will also be terminated.
- Terminating parental rights: In the event that you are unable to find the birth parent or they have no relationship with the child or children, it may be possible to prove abandonment. You will be required to present the situation to the family court that is processing your adoption request. State laws vary on this point.
- State laws: The first step in seeking the adoption of your stepchildren is to look into state laws as they can vary and ultimately determine the steps and requirements of adoption. A family law attorney, in the state you wish to adopt, can prove important in this step as he or she will be aware of all current laws steps toward adoption.
- Make the children a part of the decision: Including the children in the decision and process is immensely important to the cohesion of your family. It will show that you respect the children and appreciate their involvement in the process.
- Benefits of adopting: It is true that the definition of the word family is unique to each home. Whether or not you choose to legally adopt your partner’s children, you are still a family unit. However, in making it official with paperwork and legal acknowledgment, you are solidifying your relationship within your family unit. You are showing your stepchildren that you are committed to their well-being now and in the future.
- Emergency decisions: In being the adoptive parent, you may legally make decisions in emergency situations which could be important should something happen.
- Hire a family law attorney: The paperwork associated with adoption can be confusing and time-consuming. It is always recommended that you turn to someone who is experienced in such matters. In doing so, you will save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary confusion.
Although adoption is a legal matter, it is a very personal and emotional one as well. It is always recommended that you seek advice from a family law attorney, like a family law attorney in Lake Forest, IL. In doing so, you will be aware of the state requirements every step of the way.
Thank you to Hurst, Robin & Kay, LLC. for their insight into adoption law and step-parents.