Adopting a stepchild is a voluntary act, and not all stepparents adopt their spouse’s children, but doing so can bring about some extraordinary benefits in the lives of the stepchild, the stepparent, and the spouse of the stepparent. Here are three primary benefits of adopting your stepchild.
You Will Have the Right to Make Decisions and Be Involved in Your Stepchild’s Life
If you are a stepparent of a child but have not adopted the child, then you are not considered the legal parent of that child. This means you do not have the legal rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent of the child, such as being able to take part in decisions relating to that child’s welfare or upbringing. Furthermore, the child’s other biological parent (not the one you are married to) may indeed have some rights with regard to important decisions on the child’s behalf that you do not, such as taking part in making educational, medical, and religious decisions. You may also lack the ability to do things such as visit the child in a hospital or accompany the child to certain places if you are not an adoptive parent.
Finally, if your marriage ends or your spouse dies or becomes incapacitated, without an adoption you may no longer have any right to be involved in the child’s life and full custody may go to the spouse, the other biological parent, or even a grandparent instead. By taking steps now to adopt a stepchild, you can avoid these outcomes and gain the full legal rights of parenthood.
You Can Minimize the Influence of a Difficult Biological Parent
In a stepparent adoption, the parental rights of the other biological parent not living with the child will be terminated. What this means is that the other biological parent will no longer have rights to shared custody (if any previously existed) or visitation, and thus that parent will not have the ability to obtain a court order to interact with or otherwise influence the child. This termination also ends any child support obligations.
Although there are plenty of scenarios in which a noncustodial biological parent is either a positive or neutral influence on a child’s life, in all too many cases they are an unwanted influence on a child due to behavioral issues, drugs and alcohols, disagreements with how the child should be raised (e.g. religious or educational matters), and so on. Although you and your spouse remain free to voluntarily allow a biological parent to remain connected with the child, with a stepparent adoption you will also have the ability to avoid any and all contact between the child and that parent.
You Can Demonstrate Your Ongoing Devotion to Your Stepchild
Aside from the legal rights that you will gain as a parent, legally adopting your stepchild is a vivid and real demonstration of your ongoing devotion to your stepchild. What you are saying to your stepchild, your spouse, and the world is that you are pledging to care for that child as your own, and that that stepchild can grow up knowing that, no matter what happens, he or she will have the security of being able to count on you as a supportive parent.
Experienced Attorneys for Your California Stepparent Adoption
Adoption Law Group is a law firm in Southern California dedicated exclusively to adoption. Our areas of practice include stepparent adoptions, fost-adopt finalizations, agency-assisted adoption finalizations, adult adoptions, guardianships and international readoptions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.