What Are the Steps I Need to Take to Adopt My Stepchild?
In the state of Michigan, it just became increasingly difficult for stepparents to adopt their stepchildren. The Michigan Supreme Court has endorsed a state law prohibiting the adoption of children if the biological parents have joint custody. Justice Brian Zahra wrote in his decision that stepparents who want to adopt stepchildren must be married to a spouse who has sole legal custody of the children. This means a parent would have to go back to court to petition for sole custody before the stepparent can adopt.
How Hard is Stepparent Adoption?
Most people view adoption as a tedious and difficult process; however, stepparent adoption is typically easier in most states than any other kind of adoption. Some steps in the process might be waived or streamlined, such as the waiting period and home study.
Consent of the Biological Parents
In any adoption involving stepparents, the child’s other birth or legal parent must consent to the adoption. If the other birth parent declines approval, the adoption will not be permitted unless that parent’s rights are terminated for some other reason. Reasons for terminating a parent’s parental rights would be:
- Failure to support the child
Domestic Partners and Stepparent Adoptions
In some states, stepparent adoption processes are utilized in adoptions by same-sex partners. For example, registered domestic partners in the state of California, as well as married couples can adopt their partners’ children through stepparent procedures rather than following more complex independent adoption processes that were previously required. In some states where same-sex partners can marry, like in Massachusetts, same-sex spouses can also follow stepparent adoption measures.