If you are married to someone with children who are minors, you might have the opportunity to adopt these children. While this is entirely optional, there are many reasons to adopt a stepchild. Here are some things to know about adopting them so you know what to expect.
Consider whether adopting them is the right choice
The first thing you need to do is figure out if adopting your stepchild is the right choice. Remember, this is completely up to you, your spouse, and your stepchild. However, there are some good reasons to adopt a child. For example, if you want them to get your inheritance, you can choose to adopt them. You may also want to adopt them in order for them to get your health insurance benefits or because their other biological parent is out of the picture and they have given your consent. Think it through, because there is no going back once the adoption is complete.
Take counseling and parenting classes
Many courts will require that you take proper parenting classes and get counseling on your own, and as a family, before they will approve the adoption. Even if it is not required, it is still a good idea. Counseling should be with you and your stepchild, as well as your spouse. The counselor will talk to you about your lives together and the reasons behind why you want to adopt them and make it official. Counseling is also important for the child, especially if they are younger, and might not completely understand what is happening.
Fill out the paperwork
When you and your spouse are sure about your decision and you have gone to counseling, you will need to get started on the paperwork. You must have written consent from the other biological parent, so do that first. They must not only give their permission, but also sign a legal document and have it notarized. This states that they are relinquishing their parental rights to you. Once they have signed the paper, you can then fill out your portion of the paperwork prior to turning it into the court. Keep in mind the child might also need to consent to the adoption if they are over a certain age, so ask a family attorney about this before completing the paperwork.
Meet with a judge
Once the paperwork is filled out, you need to schedule an appointment with the judge. You don't just turn the papers in, but also see a judge in order to get them approved. The judge will look them over and spend a few minutes talking to you and your future children. They often want verbal consent from the children before approving this type of adoption.
Contact a lawyer like Lois Iannone Attorney at Law for more details.