As a step-parent, you have likely formed a close familial bond with your spouse’s child. Such relationships tend to result in formal adoption, though there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the process of adopting a step-child.
You can prepare yourself for adoption proceedings by clearing up the myths that might lead to confusion in the future.
1. You can not adopt without the biological parent’s consent
While a biological parent’s rights allow for voluntary termination of parenthood, there might be a situation in which the parent does not consent to the adoption. In the presence of evidence that the biological parent is abusive or neglectful, the court may enforce an involuntary termination of parental rights without consent.
2. The adoption process can take years
The adoption process tends to be as short as a few months for step-parents. As a step-parent, you likely have established a precedent for yourself as a responsible guardian for your spouse’s child. A lack of consent from the biological parent can complicate proceedings, but keeping a record of harmful behavior will help you expedite the process.
3. The biological parent still has rights after adoption
It goes without saying that in a joint adoption, the biological parent will share rights with you as the step-parent. However, a full step-parent adoption will result in the stripping of all parental rights from the noncustodial parent.
With an understanding of misconceptions and the reality behind them, you can continue the adoption process with renewed confidence. Consulting with a family law attorney will give you the chance to ask about any specific complications that may arise.