Making the decision to adopt your stepchildren is a huge step toward being a complete “family.” For many children whose biological parents are no longer in the picture, it can mean months, and sometimes years, of trying to locate them to gain their permission. In many cases, stepparent adoption can be stalled due to the fact that the biological parent is nowhere to be found. This is where an adoption attorney can help.
Consent of Biological Parents For Stepparent Adoption
Family law requires a stepparent to make every possible attempt to locate the biological parent of the child they wish to adopt. The biological parent must give their consent, in order for the adoption to be valid. Known as the “Diligent Search Process”, this involves following a detailed list of steps that will enable you to either find the biological parent or prove that they have either passed away or have otherwise terminated their rights to the child.
Follow Every Step for Proper Stepparent Adoption
You must follow every step in Florida’s Statute 63.088 fully and completely if you are looking to terminate a biological parent’s right to their child. This detailed list of steps is designed to help find a biological parent through the Diligent Search Process and then determine whether or not they are agreeable to terminating their parental rights to the child. A full and complete public search will have to be made as a part of the process for stepparent adoptions. This includes attempting all past and present phone numbers, addresses, places of employment, and even organizations the biological parent may have been a member of.
Check With Relatives
In addition to pursuing the biological parent through public resources and contacts, it’s essential that their relatives also be contacted. Relatives may be aware of deaths that may have occurred or other situations that may make it impossible to connect with the biological parent. Relatives are also a great resource for finding new information that may indicate the parent’s last known location.
Accurate Records for Stepparent Adoption
It is essential to keep accurate and detailed records of every search and inquiry you make. Document the time of each phone call or visit as well as the name and title of each person you spoke with. If possible, get written documentation of everything that was discussed. If you can record conversations and take photographs if they are allowed. Document everything, every detail, and every question you ask or statement you make.
Alternative Methods for Locating a Missing Parent
When all other avenues have been exhausted, an attorney may request assistance from the court in trying to locate the last known whereabouts of a biological parent. They may be able to access records that are not available to the public and can also subpoena documents that someone outside the legal system won’t have access to. This can be vital to further the stepparent adoption process.
Contact Julie Beth Jouben, P.A. for Assistance with Stepparent Adoptions
Julie Beth Jouben, P.A. works diligently to help stepparents who want to adopt their step-children. Julie understands Florida’s laws and statutes as they pertain to stepparent adoptions and has resources that will help her find the information she needs to be able to pursue the case and move forward with the adoption process. Call our office to make an appointment and find out what steps you need to take for stepparent adoptions to make your family complete.