It’s a beautiful experience to fall in love with your stepchild. In fact, many stepparents are so attached to their stepchildren that they would like to adopt them and become the children’s official parent.
In order for this to happen, however, the other biological parent will usually need to agree to the process. In some cases, if the other parent sees the stepparent’s love for the child, the stepparent might gain the approval he or she seeks. But what happens if the other parent protests the adoption?
Adopting stepchildren when the other parent disapproves
If the other biological parent disagrees with a stepparent adoption, the stepparent might be out of luck. For example, imagine that the other parent is the noncustodial parent — meaning that he or she doesn’t have physical custody, but does have visitation rights. If the noncustodial parent has shared legal custody of the child, then he or she will need to give approval of any stepparent adoption in order for it to proceed.
In rare circumstances, however, the stepparent and his or her spouse can petition the court to proceed with the adoption by offering evidence for the revocation of the biological parent’s legal custodial rights. This may be possible in select cases where the adoptive parent can prove:
- The noncustodial parent has abandoned the child by not being involved in his or her life and not taking advantage of visitation time.
- The noncustodial parent has failed to pay his or her child support, or has not contributed financially to the rearing of the child.
- The noncustodial parent has a drug serious drug problem.
- The noncustodial parent is serving time in jail.
- The noncustodial parent has been convicted of a violent crime, sexual abuse or child abuse.
- The noncustodial parent is not fit to fulfill his or her parenting responsibilities for any number of reasons.
Do you want to adopt your stepchild?
Stepchild adoption is possible in a lot of situations. However, before proceeding with your stepparent adoption goals, you definitely need to determine where you stand under the law.