If you have remarried and now find yourself to be a stepparent, you realize your life has changed for the better. However, as you have come to love your new child as you would your own, you may be wanting to make it official and adopt your step-child. While you may think this is a very complex process, it can actually be much easier than you imagined. If you are ready to move forward with your adoption, here is how the process will work.
Filing Your Petition
To begin the process of adopting your step-child, you will be required to file a petition with the court. When your petition is filed, its main purpose is to state not only that you wish to adopt your step-child, but also that the child’s biological parent will have their parental rights terminated by the court.
Terminating Parental Rights
In most states, only the rights of one of the child’s biological parents need to be terminated in order for you to adopt your step-child. For this to occur, one of the child’s natural parents may choose to voluntarily sign away their rights as the parent. In situations that may be contentious, a court hearing may be needed so that a judge can order the natural parent’s rights to be terminated. Since this aspect of the adoption can sometimes be complex, you should hire an attorney, who has experience with these matters. They can provide you with legal council and information on how to best go about the adoption.
Conducting the Social Study
Before you can officially adopt your step-child, an evaluation will need to be prepared by social services. Known as the social study, this will involve social workers interviewing you and your spouse, at least one of the child’s natural parents, and the child to determine if everyone is agreeable that adoption is the right course of action.
Appointing an Amicus Attorney
As one of the last steps before your adoption process can be completed, the court will appoint what is known as an Amicus attorney. This attorney will be responsible for protecting the child’s rights as the adoption proceeds and will conduct interviews with you, your spouse, and the child. In addition, the Amicus attorney may also choose to conduct a home visit, where they can observe interactions between you and your step-child to determine if you have a suitable home in which to raise the child.
By having patience along the way and relying on the advice of a seasoned attorney who understands the adoption process, your adoption of your step-child will soon become reality.
By Lizzie Weakley