Adopting A Stepchild

Helpful Tips For Adopting A Stepchild

Since divorces and second marriages have become so common, many people find themselves in need of information on adopting a stepchild.  For many children, they still have involvement with their biological parents after a divorce however, others don't.  This is also the case with a deceased parent.  In these circumstances, the new guardian will legally adopt the child.  This is a very meaningful gesture for the child to reinforce a sense of belonging as well as identity.

Why You Should Adopt

Adopting a stepchild is a necessary and important thing to do for a few reasons.  For some, it is to protect a child from any legal issues involving their inheritance while for others, it is a way of offering equal status to all children that live in the home.  This is also common to do as an act of commitment, very similar to that of a wedding ceremony.

If your spouse's child's other parent dies, adoption is a way to solidify your legal guardianship.  This settles all questions regarding names, medical releases and inheritance.

Another important reason for adopting a stepchild involves the chance of your partner dying.  If this happens, unless the child has been legally adopted by you, technically you have no legal relationship.  The child can be taken away and sent to live with relatives and you might not even receive any visitation rights.

Adopting really reduces sibling jealousy as well.  It is a permanent recognition of the child and helps to provide emotionally stability.

When You Should Not Adopt

Adoption always has to be in the best interest of the child.  If you are considering adopting a stepchild, it cannot be out of spite and the child should never have to choose between a biological parent and yourself.  If the biological parent is still alive, this is a decision that needs to be taken extremely serious.  Adoption severs the child's relationship with their biological parent permanently.

You also need to realize that adoption will not cure problems in your household.  If you and your spouse or all of the children have issues, everything will not be magically fixed through adoption.  Additionally, if there is a small chance that you and your spouse will not last, adoption is not a good idea.  Your marriage may end but your relationship to the child remains the same.

How To Adopt

If you think adopting a stepchild is the right choice for you, it is important to discuss the procedure with the child first.  Some like the idea while others simply do not.

Every state has their own procedures when it comes to an adoption of this nature.  It is important to determine the necessary steps that you need to take at your local courthouse.  In general though, there are some basic steps to follow.


Once you have already contacted the courthouse in regards to the adoption process and paperwork, you will need to contact an attorney who specializes in family law.  Many states actually do not require you to have an attorney however, they can usually help things move a long faster and the presence of one eliminates any paperwork errors.

The paperwork needs to be thoroughly filled out and then filed with the court and a hearing will be scheduled.

You will be notified by the court of when you will need to attend your adoption hearing.  It is at the hearing where the judge sets a date for the process to be completed.  At this hearing, you will receive the adoption paperwork as well as certificates and after the hearing, you are able to file for an amended birth certificate for the child that has your name on it.