How do I begin the process of adopting my stepchild?
Blended families come in all shapes and sizes. There can be many reasons why you and your spouse have decided that the time has come for you to legally adopt the stepchildren that you have been helping to raise. The legal process might seem daunting at first, but it’s not impossible, and it will definitely be worth it to become a permanent part of the children’s lives.
You must submit a Stepparent Investigation to the court
To begin the process, you and your spouse must complete a report to submit to the court. This report is called a Stepparent Investigation, and it must explain things such as the circumstances of the child’s family when they were conceived. The purpose of this report is to determine whether the child’s other biological parent has parentage over the child.
If the child’s parents were married or in a domestic partnership when the child was conceived, then there’s a legal presumption of parentage.
If they were not married or in a domestic relationship, the other parent could still have parentage over the child if they specifically requested that their name be put on the child’s birth certificate.
If the child has an identifiable biological parent other than your spouse – and that parent claims parentage over the child – then you will have to notify that person of your intention to adopt the child. They will have to give their consent in writing in order for the adoption to be able to proceed.
Your Stepparent Investigation report will have to contain a description of who the child’s other biological parent is and how to contact them, if possible, so that the court can seek their acknowledgment of your adoption.
The process for finalizing an adoption of your stepchild might be a long and complicated one. An experienced family law attorney will be able to walk you through the process, and help you to get through any unique challenges that may arise. Hopefully, you will eventually be able to walk out of the courthouse as the legal parent of the child you have grown to love as your own.