Your wedding day was special in many ways. You married the love of your life and shared the day with your closest friends and family. You also entered the challenging new world of being a stepparent.
While being a stepparent can be rewarding, and you will always have a special place in the child's heart, there are certain advantages for you and the child if you take the next step and adopt your spouse's son or daughter.
The first critical step
You may think it is easy enough to file for adoption, but it is important that you understand the laws in your area. For example, Kentucky has some specific requirements that are unique to this state, so seeking legal counsel in the early stages of the process may save you time and frustration.
The next step may be the most difficult. You must obtain consent from everyone involved. Your spouse may approve, but Kentucky law also requires the child to consent if he or she is age 12 or older. Obtaining consent from the other biological parent may be the most challenging. Without that consent, the adoption process cannot proceed. In rare circumstances, the court may involuntarily terminate parental rights, such as:
- The parent cannot be located.
- The parent has abused or neglected the child.
- The parent has failed to financially or emotionally support the child for a length of time.
You may be fortunate, and the parent may be willing to relinquish rights to the child, especially since it absolves him or her from child support obligations.
What happens next?
Once you have obtained the consent of the biological parent, you may proceed with filing the paperwork. Unlike traditional adoptions, the court may waive the home study in a stepparent adoption, but you may have other requirements to meet to satisfy the court that you are able to provide a safe and solid home for the child. You would be wise to comply with any requests the court makes and to seek legal assistance for your questions about your rights.
You should soon receive a notice of a hearing during which you, your spouse and perhaps the child will speak to the judge and answer any questions about your family situation. If your case is successful, you will receive a certificate of adoption, and you can take the next step to have your child's birth certificate amended to include your name.