If you are married to a spouse who has a child from a previous relationship, you understand how complicated and sensitive parenting issues can be. You probably realize that you are not a biological parent to his or her child, but, at the same time, you want to provide a trustworthy, positive adult figure to whom the child can come with problems and concerns. Over time, you may find familial love beginning to develop. In some cases, the love becomes so strong the stepparent is ready to take the steps to become the child’s other legal parent through the process of adoption.
Does a Stepparent Adoption Make Sense?
As you consider a possible stepparent adoption, you need to carefully analyze not only your own situation but that of the child. You may be perfectly willing, ready, and able to take on the responsibilities of legal parenthood, but that does not mean the adoption is necessarily going to take place. If the child already has a second parent—your spouse being the first—who is active and interested in his or her life, it is very unlikely that your adoption would be in the child’s best interest. If, on the other hand, the other parent disappeared shortly after the child was born or is apathetic about parental responsibilities, pursuing the adoption may be a good idea.
Consent or Overriding Approval
In order for your intended adoption to proceed, the parental rights of the child’s other legal parent—if there is another legal parent—must be terminated. This can be done voluntarily by the other parent—who, by doing so, can terminate his or her responsibility for child support and other considerations—or by the court upon review of the relevant circumstances. If the court finds that terminating the other parent’s rights to the child would serve the child’s best interests, your adoption will be permitted to proceed. If the other parent’s rights are upheld, the matter is essentially dead.
Wishes of the Child
If the child you wish to adopt is at least 14 years old, he or she must also grant his or her consent to the adoption. The consent must be provided to the court in writing. If, the child suffers from a mental or development disability that affects his or her ability to make such decisions, the consent of the child can be waived.
Getting the Help You Need
There are many other considerations that you will need to make when you are looking to adopt your stepchild. For assistance throughout the process, contact an experienced DuPage County adoption attorney. Call 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation at Abear Law Offices today.