If you are thinking about adopting your stepchild, then your stepson or stepdaughter is very lucky to have you indeed. Adopting a stepchild is a lifelong responsibility and commitment, one that's filled with birthdays, proms, graduations, grandchildren and lots of love.
Did you know that stepparent adoptions are the most common type of adoption performed in the United States today? While these adoptions are started with the best intentions, for example, the stepparent is agreeing to be fully responsible for their spouse's child, even if their spouse were to pass away, they cannot be completed unless the child's other parent (the noncustodial parent) is willing to give up all of their parental rights and responsibilities, including the obligation to pay child support.
Stepparent Adoptions Are Governed By State Laws
In the U.S., all adoptions are governed by state laws and stepparent adoptions are no exception. Each state however, handles stepparent adoptions differently. For example, some states won't allow a stepparent adoption to go through unless the adoptive parent passes a criminal background check; other states require a home study.
How long does it take to complete a stepparent adoption? It depends on which state you live in, for example, some states won't let a stepparent adopt a child until they've been married to the child's parent for at least one year.
If you and your spouse want you to adopt your stepchild, you're going to need to obtain the consent of the child's other biological parent, the noncustodial parent. Unless of course, that parent abandoned the child and has no part of their life.
In some cases, it's not difficult obtaining the consent of the other parent because they are glad to be relieved of their obligation to financially support the child. Other times, it's not so easy. Additionally, if the child is between the ages of 10 and 14 (depending on the state), the older child must want to be adopted by their stepparent.
To explore stepparent adoption in your state, reach out to a family law attorney near you.