Many times blended families view adopting a stepchild as a good way to make the new relationship even stronger and more cohesive. Fortunately, stepparent adoption is a fairly easy in most states.
Stepparent adoptions don’t usually require the same inspection such as home studies and lengthy hearings, as do outside adoptions by unrelated third parties. Of course, there is still paperwork to be completed and the adoption must be approved by the court. However, much, if not most, of the initial exploration is usually not necessary as it is for outside adoptions.
For any adoption, consent must be obtained from the non-custodial biological parent. If that parent refuses consent and has strong ties with the child, the stepparent adoption will likely be denied. On the other hand, if the biological parent is not known (as with a father) or has abandoned the child, usually for a period of one year, most adoptions are granted. Abandonment basically means no regular quality time with the child. The occasional phone call or birthday card does not constitute quality time.
Seriously consider whether it is the best thing for the child before pursuing a stepparent adoption. It may be seen it as a great way to bring your new family closer together. But also understand that the child may not want to break ties with his birth parent. Once an adoption is granted, the biological parent will no longer have parental rights and all legally allowed visitations will stop. If the child and biological parent sustain regular communication and have a strong relationship, an adoption could cause emotional and psychological harm to the child. Each decision is unique to the child and family, but the welfare of the child should always be the deciding factor in any decision.
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The most common reason for adult adoption is when a stepparent wants to legally adopt a stepchild who is is at least 18. With stepparent adoptions of a minor child adoptions, a stepparent sometimes has to get permission from the child’s biological parent. That is not necessary with an adult adoption.
The adult adoption process is usually simpler and faster than the process for child adoptions. There’s no need for home inspections or interviews by state child welfare agencies, because the adoptee is an adult responsible for themselves. In most states, all that is required is a petition for adoption signed by both parties along with a stated reason for the adoption.
Although adult adoptions are not a common as adoptions for children, they do happen more than is common knowledge. Adults adopt other adults (and it does not have to a step child. Any adult can adopt any other adult) for a variety of reasons. After adult-stepparent adoptions the next most common reason is a situation where an adoptee has no real relationship to their biological parents and forms a bond with an individual or couple that is a parent-child relationship.
The motivation to perform an adult adoption is primarily an emotional one. These are people who want to make official what that they already knew was true in reality. There are also legal and financial benefits to adopting; the adopted children automatically inherit a deceased parent’s estate with or without a will. When you’re adopted, it becomes as though you were born to that person.
In most cases, the only people who need to consent to the adoption are spouses of either the adoptive parent or the adoptee. Once completed, an adult adoption provides a state-issued decree of adoption and a new birth certificate for the adoptee, including a free name change if desired. The old birth certificate is then sealed with the adoption records.
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