Adoption is an incredible act of selflessness and an expression of love. It also helps to unite families and give a child a peaceful, loving home where they feel safe.
For families where one spouse is the child’s birth mother or father, adoption can be an especially important step for a stepparent to take. This is known as a “Related Adoption” because one of the parents involved is a birth parent and biologically related to the child. The good news is that a Related Adoption is typically less tedious or lengthy than an Unrelated Adoption, but there are still three very important requirements that must be met.
Beyond paperwork and some nominal fees, the three most important requirements in a related adoption are as follows:
- A stepparent seeking to adopt a birth parent’s child must be married to the birth parent for at least a year.
- The child’s other birth parent must be willing to terminate their parental rights
- The birth parent who is married to a stepparent seeking adoption must be involved in the adoption petition process at all times.
As previously mentioned, Related Adoptions are less tedious than their counterparts. This means that requirements such as home studies to determine whether someone is fit financially, morally, or has a home of certain qualities can all be side-stepped in a Related Adoption.
If the other birth parent is still alive, obtaining their consent to give up their parental rights in favor of the stepparent may be the most difficult part of the whole process. The adoption cannot proceed if the child’s other biological parent refuses to give up these rights, even if they have not been around in the child’s life.
If you are facing a birth parent who is unrelenting in keeping their parental rights intact but is practically disinterested in being a parent or is incarcerated, legal action can be sought to terminate their parental rights. This course of action may be successful if it can be proved that the birth parent has abandoned the child, failed to maintain a positive relationship with the child for the past 12 of 14 months, or have failed to pay child support or meet other legal obligations to the child.
In a best-case scenario, a stepparent adoption can be completed in less than two months or, more specifically, around 45 days. This is assuming there are no snags in the process, that a birth parent is agreeable to giving up their parental rights, and there is no need to wait an additional amount of time for the one-year mark of marriage between a stepparent and birth parent to lapse.
Do You Need Help Adopting a Child as a Stepparent?
If you are a stepparent seeking to adopt your spouse’s child as your own, we at Bundren Law Firm can provide the legal assistance you need during this time. Although Related Adoptions are less intricate and laden with requirements than Unrelated Adoptions, it’s no less important to have a qualified legal professional walk you throughout the process toward the best possible outcomes.
Our attorney offers personalized, skilled, and responsive services that can help you feel more at ease with the stepparent adoption process. We can represent you at all times, even if you need to contest an unresponsive birth parent’s rights so that you can adopt your spouse’s child.
For more information about how we can help you during this time, schedule a consultation with our attorney by calling (918) 992-3300 or by filling out our online contact form.