It is a natural inclination of many children to desire to be adopted by their stepparent. In many cases, a stepchild would like to surprise their stepparent after going ahead on their own to get the ball rolling. While such a heartwarming gesture is a lovely idea, the laws regarding step parent adoption do not accommodate it.
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS
A stepparent adoption is an independent, or private, adoption that begins when the parties already know one another. It is important to note, you will need an experienced adoption attorney to facilitate the legalities and make sure that all the required steps are taken to comply with the adoption laws of your state.
TYPES OF STEPPARENT ADOPTIONS
Depending on your age and your stepparent's marital status, there are three different possible processes to facilitate a stepparent adoption:
- Adult Adoption - If you are 18 years or older when your stepparent chooses to adopt you, this is the type of adoption proceeding that must be filed.
- Second Parent Adoption - If your stepparent is in a relationship with, but not married to, your biological parent, or if your stepparent and your biological parent are a same-sex couple, second parent adoption paperwork must be filed.
- Steparent Adoption - If your stepparent is married to your biological parent, this is what is known as a stepparent adoption.
THE ADOPTION PROCESS IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, MARYLAND, AND VIRGINIA
While there are variances in the specific adoption laws in each state, the general process is the same. Your stepparent is required to do the following:
- Get consent from the noncustodial, biological parent, or if unable to do so, request that his or her parental rights are terminated.
- File an adoption petition with the court.
- File remaining paperwork with the court.
- Official parental rights will be granted by a judge at a finalization hearing.
- File for a new birth certificate that has the new adoptive parent's name on it.
- If you both desire, file to have your last name changed to your newly adoptive parent's.
BENEFITS OF BEING ADOPTED BY YOUR STEPPARENT
While having your stepparent formally adopt you is an endearing sentimental journey for you to cherish, there are also several practical aspects to it as well:
- In the event of an emergency, you may access one another's medical records and make important decisions for one another.
- You can be included in their will.
- You can benefit from their social security benefits.
AN EMOTIONAL REPRESENTATION OF YOUR LOVE
While you cannot legally surprise your stepparent with the actual adoption, you can certainly make approaching the subject a special occasion. Pick out a beautiful card, serve a professionally decorated cake, or take your stepparent out to dinner.
Perhaps there is a special activity that the two of you have always enjoyed doing together, and you may decide to talk to your stepparent about the idea then. Whatever you decide, it can still be the best surprise of your stepparent's life.
Formalizing your relationship with your stepparent can be one the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. While you focus on the love, Attorney Jennifer Fairfax will rely on experience in adoption legal counsel to make sure this most important transition goes smoothly.