Families can come in all different forms. Some individuals may have solid biological family relationships while other families have formed through marriages or adoptions. As a stepparent, you may have been in your stepchild's life for many years and likely consider him or her as your own child. While the feeling of love may seem like enough, you may also want to make the full parental status legal.
Many stepparents choose to adopt their stepchildren, but because of the nature of such a situation, legal proceedings do need to take place. Additionally, many parties will need involvement in the process, including the child's other biological parent.
Biological parent consent
In order to adopt your stepchild, his or her other parent will need to provide consent that the adoption can occur. The reason for this requirement relates to parental rights. When you adopt a stepchild, his or her other biological parent relinquishes all parental rights. In some cases, this step can prove difficult because a birth parent may not want to give up those rights. However, some parents may feel willing to give up those rights because it will also end any child support and other potentially unwanted obligations.
Certain circumstances may make it unnecessary to gain the other birth parent's consent. If that parent has already had his or her parental rights terminated by the court due to neglect or unfitness, you would not have to obtain his or her consent to move forward with the adoption process.
In the event that both biological parents consent to the stepparent adoption, your legal process may move forward relatively easily. You will need to fill out the necessary paperwork and ensure that you follow all the proper legal steps involved.
Of course, if one parent does not give consent or you cannot locate the other parent, your situation may become more difficult. Still, lack of consent does not make the process impossible. You may need to take additional steps to prove that the other parent has abandoned the child, has no biological ties to the child or is unfit to retain parental rights.
Because the latter situation can add further complications to your process, you may wish to gain legal support during your proceedings. Speaking with a Tennessee family law attorney could help you understand how certain issues could impact your case and how to work through them.