Did you know that nearly 5% of stepchildren become adopted by their stepparents? In fact, nearly 40% of the 135,000 adoptions that occur every year involve a stepparent.
If you want to adopt your stepchildren, there are a few things you should know about stepparent adoptions.
Prepare to submit to a background check, including criminal history checks. Some jurisdictions may also require home inspections or studies, but this is somewhat uncommon in stepparent adoptions.
First, you should get the consent of your stepchildren and spouse. However, you also need the consent of the noncustodial parent. This means that you need to contact your stepchildren’s other parent and ask him or her to revoke his or her parental rights and allow you to adopt the children. This individual may provide written consent or appear in court to give consent.
However, there are exemptions. For example, if the courts revoked the noncustodial parent’s rights due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, you may not need consent. In addition, lack of contact for some time may warrant an exemption.
All adoptions require a document review. You need to submit the children’s birth certificates, adoption forms and your marriage certificate. If the court requires consent, the court will also review this document. A social worker may also visit your home and conduct an evaluation.
Your case and review will occur in juvenile or family court, depending on your jurisdiction. You may need to appear in a preliminary hearing, but you will have to complete a hearing to finalize your adoption. These appearances tend to be a few months apart.
If you choose to adopt your stepchildren, you become their parent with all the rights and responsibilities no matter what happens between you and your spouse.