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Preparing for a stepparent adoption

While many families have difficulties at first adjusting to the changing dynamic when a new stepparent comes into the house, others find that things are working out so well they begin to consider the idea of a stepparent adoption. Before moving forward on this path, however, it's important to understand the requirements that must be met as well as how to tell if this is a good choice for your particular situation.

Legally, both biological parents must consent to a stepparent adoption since the parent not married to the stepparent will be giving up his or her parental rights. Stepparent adoptions are most common in situations where the other biological parent is absent and has been for some time, but even in these cases, significant efforts must be made to contact the other biological parent before the adoption process can even begin.

While a stepparent adoption may seem like the perfect way to officially blend your families, it's important to consider the children's feelings as well. Many children have very strong feelings against these adoptions and feel it is a betrayal to their biological parent even if he or she is not in their lives. If your children do not want the adoption, it is best to wait and see if their views change in the future.

Even if both biological parents agree, the stepparent wants to adopt the children and the children support the decision, the family courts may still not approve the adoption if they feel it is not in the best interests of the children. Talking with a family law attorney as soon as you are considering this step can help you prepare for this possibility.

Source: Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, "A Guide for Stepparents," accessed Oct. 09, 2015

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