Creating a blended family can be both a joy and a challenge. It underlines the commitment that you and your new partner have for each other and all the children involved. However, you must also consider what kind of roadblocks you might face, from the cost of adopting stepchildren to the legalities involved. If adoption is in the cards for you as a parent, there are several steps you may want to take to ensure that the process adopting your stepchildren is completed lawfully.
1. Ask Your Stepchild About Adoption
While you may be ready to adopt your stepchild, he or she might not feel the bond required to make such a commitment. This can be especially true of older kids or teenagers who still have strong bonds with their biological mother or father. You may feel hurt if your stepchild tells you he or she is not ready to be adopted, but being patient instead of angry can be the best course of action.
If you are unsure about the adoption process and want to answer any questions your child may have, you can meet with a representative from a law firm that specializes in family practice. If you are a father seeking adoption rights, this firm can answer your questions connected to cost, time, and other factors that may affect a possible adoption.
2. Contact the Biological Parent
Before you can legally begin adopting your stepchildren, you will likely have to contact their other parent for permission. Because this means their mother or father surrender all their legal and parental rights, it can be a decision that is supercharged with emotion. Take your time discussing the issue and ask your spouse for support.
If your partner’s divorce was an acrimonious one, then this can be a roadblock to adopting your stepchildren. If the biological mother or father refuses your request because he or she is angry or still feels hurt over the divorce, then you may need to contact a law firm which has experience with family law and may be able to untangle this circumstance.
3. Gather the Pertinent Documents
Once you navigate your way through gaining permission to adopt your stepchildren, it is wise to gather all the necessary paperwork you will need to fill out your petition. You will probably need your birth certificate, marriage license, the children’s birth certificates, and the papers that prove your spouse is divorced from the children’s parent. If that parent is deceased, you may also need to obtain his or her death certificate.
While you might be eager to get the process of adopting your stepchildren started, remember that it may take some time, so gather these forms carefully and talk to your lawyer about what other printed proof or information you might need so you can be prepared. For example, if your stepchildren have any property or money coming to them later in life, you may need details about it to offer to the court.
4. Fill Out the Adoption Petition
Once you obtain the petition packet, take it to your law firm so the experienced lawyers there can help ensure it is filled out correctly and that no information is missing. It is likely that you can adopt more than one child with the same petition. However, since the laws connected with adoption can vary by state, the fees may vary as well. It is a good idea to ask your attorney about how much you can expect to pay by the time the process is complete.
Adopting your stepchildren can be one of the greatest joys of your lifetime. Following the legal steps and filling in all the blanks before you legally petition the court can increase the chances of you and your family taking that next great step toward togetherness.