At some point, your stepchild stops being the kid of the person you love and starts being an individual whom you love for their own sake. A parental bond may not develop as quickly as a romantic bond sometimes can, but that doesn’t make it any less precious to your new, blended family.
If you embrace and lean into your new parental role, you may find yourself yearning for validation of this relationship and protection for it. As a stepparent, if you divorce your spouse, you will have an uphill battle if you want visitation without the support of the child’s biological parent.
Stepparent adoption helps ensure that you will have a role in the life of your stepchild even if you get divorced. It will also provide support for your spouse by ensuring they can depend on child support in that same scenario. Finally, stepparent adoption could benefit the children by letting them know that they have two adults who deeply love them and want to be part of their life.
It’s usually best to talk to the other adults in the situation first
Stepparent adoption is a complex and often lengthy process. You will want to talk to your spouse and make sure that they agree with your idea of adopting your stepchild. Their approval is the first of many you should seek.
If the other biological parent of your stepchild is still alive, you will also need to speak with them about it. In order for you to formally adopt your stepchild, they will have to rescind or sign away their parental rights. Some parents are eager to do so, especially if they don’t have visitation but do have child support obligations.
Other times, even if the parent hasn’t shown up for years, they may not agree, in which case an adoption isn’t possible. That’s why it’s best to talk to the adults in the situation first before you broach the topic with your stepchild.
Make sure your stepchild is enthusiastic about the adoption
While their biological parent may be uninvolved or possibly deceased, it is still possible that your stepchild views their legal relationship to that individual as highly important. Although your stepchild may love you, they may not want to terminate their biological parent’s relationship to them on paper, especially if the formality of the relationship is the only affirmation of it that they have ever received.
On the other hand, it’s possible that your stepchild might leap at the opportunity to have a new parent totally devoted to them. Provided that everyone in your family is on the same page, you can then take the first steps in the process of going to court to formalize the adoption of your stepchild.