Considering Step-Parent Adoption? Three Things to Consider Before Getting Started
Families come in various shapes and sizes. Many look to adoption to expand their family, including adopting the biological children of a current spouse. But often times, the excitement of a prospective adoption can be overshadowed by the unknown obstacles in the legal system.
Kogut & Wilson attorneys help families navigate the adoption process. Here are a few important considerations to determine if a stepparent adoption is right for your family.
How are Biological Parents Involved?
When adopting a step-child, both the biological parent and his or her spouse must be active participants throughout the entire process. This includes gathering and signing all necessary paperwork and working together as they move through the adoption.
Adoption also requires the acknowledgment of the estranged biological parent, meaning he or she must either consent to the adoption or be otherwise notified about terminated parental rights. Consider speaking with the estranged biological parent to address whether he or she would voluntarily consent. If consent is not viable, attempt to locate the estranged biological parent to notify them.
What is the Child’s Role?
The child’s role in the adoption process extends beyond joining a permanent family and varies with respect to additional factors such as the child’s age.
In order to adopt, the adopting parents and child must all appear in court in order to finalize the process. Children aged 14 or older must also consent to their own adoption.
Be sure to have the appropriate conversations with the child well in advance of any court appearance to ensure an understanding of the process and to address any concerns that come up along the way.
Are Background Checks Required?
While no formal home study is required in a step-parent adoption, certain background checks are conducted and reviewed by the court. This includes fingerprint submissions for the non-biological adopting parent as well as other adults aged 18 or older living in the home such as adult siblings or grandparents. The court also conducts reviews for child abuse and neglect for anyone aged 13 or older living in the home.
To avoid surprises in the process, discuss all potential pitfalls with a Kogut & Wilson family law attorney before commencing a step-parent adoption.
Kogut & Wilson is an award-winning family law firm based in Chicago with extensive experience representing clients in all aspects of adoption and family law. Understanding that the cases we work on are often sensitive, our team of trusted attorneys takes great care to provide personalized and effective approaches to meet clients’ everchanging needs, no matter the complexity.