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3 important steps for those who want to adopt a stepchild

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2021 | Family Law

Adoption can be a great way to add to your family, but it can often be a lengthy process. However, some people have the good fortune of already knowing a child that they would like to adopt.

Stepparents are frequently quite close to the children of their spouse and may eventually want to legally assume a parental role. A stepparent adoption protects your parenting rights if you get divorced or if your spouse dies. It can also make your stepchild feel more secure in their relationship with you.

What will you have to do to adopt your stepchild?

Talk with your spouse and possibly their ex

You have to have the permission of your spouse to adopt your stepchild. In fact, if the other parent of your stepchild is still alive, you will usually need their permission as well to complete a stepparent adoption in Tennessee.

Unless the state has already terminated their parental rights, the other biological parent of your stepchild still has the right to approve or deny your adoption. Realizing that they may not have any more child support obligations could prompt a typically uninvolved parent to agree to a stepparent adoption.

Take a state-mandated parenting class

Many adoptive parents have no experience raising a child, so it makes sense that Tennessee requires every prospective adoptive parent to complete a parenting class. Of course, you have had hands-on training as a stepparent. While that won’t mean that the state waves your parenting class requirement, it will likely mean you won’t struggle with passing the course.

Talk with your stepchild to make sure they want you to adopt them

Frequently, children who have lost a parent or who have an uninvolved parent are excited to have someone else want to make a real commitment to them. However, there are many reasons why a child who loves their stepparent may not want a stepparent adoption.

They may worry that it undermines your relationship with their biological parent. They may have strong feelings about maintaining a legal tie to their other parent. Talking with your stepchild and getting their permission is an important part of a stepparent adoption.

Once you have fulfilled all of these steps, you can then go to court to officially become a parent. Following the right steps will make a stepparent adoption an easier process.