13% of children in America live with a single parent. These children may find additional parental love in the form of a stepparent. Stepparents may want to take on parental responsibilities for their stepchildren legally by adopting them. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you should learn more about adopting your stepchildren.
Why Adopt Your Stepchildren
There are a number of reasons why you may want to adopt your stepchildren, including family solidarity. When you adopt your stepchildren, they will take on the family name. This is especially relevant if the children's mom and new siblings have the stepfather's last name. Having the same name can make adopted children feel connected to the family.
Additionally, your newly adopted children will get familial rights, such as insurance and inheritance. The adopted parent will also have a legal say in the case the active parent passes away or in the case of divorce.
How to Adopt Your Stepchildren
To start the adoption process, you will want to meet with a family lawyer to discuss the laws in your state. After your initial consultation, you'll have a list of documentation you'll need in order to start the adoption. In some states, you may need permission from the children's estranged biological parent. The biological parent may need to forego their parental rights, including visitation. The active parent will also need to forgo child support as the new parent will take on the responsibility.
With all documentation in place, the family lawyer will start the proceedings. You may need to appear in court to finalize the adoption. After the adoption is finalized, you may need to order a new birth certificate that reflects any name changes. It may take the child some time to adjust to the name change, especially if they have established an identity based on their former name. Be patient.
You may encounter some challenges during the adoption process.
First, the children's biological parent may resist. You will need to come up with an agreement that satisfies all parties.
You may even get resistance from the children. Some children don't want to be adopted. You'll need to get them on board, or the judge may deny the request based on the children's desires.
Finally, incorrect paperwork or incomplete paperwork can prolong the process. When things go smoothly, the adoption can be completed in just a couple of months. A family lawyer can ensure that everything gets done correctly and things go smoothly.