If you are a stepparent of a child you love and consider “yours,” an adoption creates a legal relationship protecting the bond you already have.
Here are some of the questions we often receive from stepparents:
What are the some of the benefits of adopting a stepchild:
After the child is legally yours:
- No other family member can take them away from you if your spouse dies. This is a common reason our families give for wanting to adopt their stepchild.
- You’re creating the sense of belonging and security all children thrive on.
- You can legally make decisions about medical care, which is especially important during emergencies if your spouse is not available.
- If you are a veteran, they may become entitled to certain veteran benefits as your legal child. We love our veteran families and want to ensure that your children receive all the benefits they are entitled to due to your military service. (Thank you for your service!)
Is adopting a stepchild or stepchildren complicated or expensive?
No, stepparent adoptions are not normally as complex or expensive as other types of adoptions. They are often less time consuming and fewer court documents are usually necessary. Also, Washington statutes allow abbreviated home studies for stepparents.
However, parental rights still must be transferred from the biological parent to the stepparent. This can be accomplished via agreement or by court action.
What can be done if the biological parent won’t agree to the adoption?
Sometimes a parent won’t consent to terminate their parental rights so the adoption can proceed even though they haven’t been a part of the child’s life for a long time. In these situations, we can usually establish their failure to act like a parent in court and a judge will order their parental rights be terminated. We have successfully litigated these cases dozens of times.
Is there a way to adopt a stepchild if the biological parent can’t be found?
Yes, it’s still possible even if you cannot locate him or her. We can “serve” the missing parent by publishing a legal notice. Provided that publication is done correctly, courts will accept it as proper service.