Stepparents play a vital role as a supportive adult figure in their stepchild’s life. In some cases, you may play a more active role in your stepchild’s life than their actual parent. Did you know that the adoption of stepchildren by their stepparents is the most common form of adoption? When you adopt your stepchild, you assume legal and financial responsibility and release their noncustodial parent from the job.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild, there are a few essential things to consider. Adoption is a significant step for families and isn’t always a smooth process. If you are ready to move forward with stepchild adoption, here are three questions to ask about your circumstances:
1. Is adoption right for your situation?
Every family has unique circumstances and dynamics. While stepchild adoption may seem like the best route for some families, it isn’t always right for everyone. After all, adoption is a significant legal responsibility. You’ll want to be as transparent as possible about the process with your family and ensure that your spouse and stepchild are emotionally prepared for such a big step.
2. Do you need an attorney?
While you don’t necessarily require an attorney to adopt your stepchild, it can make the process substantially easier – especially if you suspect their biological parent or another relative will contest it. An attorney can help you navigate Tennessee adoption laws confidently and ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible for your family. If you aren’t sure whether you need an attorney, scheduling a consultation is a good idea to explore your legal options.
3. Can you get permission from the child’s parents?
When a stepparent wishes to adopt a stepchild, the child’s parents – including your spouse and the child’s other noncustodial parent – must give written consent to the adoption. This consent terminates the noncustodial parent’s rights to the child. In some cases, getting approval will be difficult. If the parent is absent or doesn’t want to give up their rights, don’t lose hope. It’s still possible to move forward with the adoption if the parent is no longer fit to retain their rights.
As a stepparent, you love your stepchild as though they were your own. If you are ready to legally formalize your role as a parent in their lives, asking yourself these questions will help you determine if stepchild adoption is right for you and your family.