Do I Have to Do a Step Parent Adoption if I am Married to My Child’s Other Parent?


Adopting Your Partner’s Biological Child

Some step-parents choose to take on a more complete role in being a parent to their partner’s child. This often entails a step parent adoption, wherein a step-parent assumes the responsibility of being the child’s legal parent. Step parent adoptions generally are not as difficult as some other kinds of adoption, but there are still requirements and legal issues that must be addressed during the process.

Often, the most difficult part of a step parent adoption is gaining consent from the child’s other biological parent. In most cases, the consent of the other birth parent is required; however, this requirement can be waived in cases where the other birth parent’s rights have been terminated

Other aspects of a step parent adoption may be easier than in other kinds of adoptions. For instance, the court handling the adoption may waive home study requirements and waiting periods in the interest of completing the paperwork as quickly as possible. Because the child is living with a biological parent and that parent has consented to the adoption, the courts may honor that parent’s judgement on the issue.

Taking the Parental Role

Step parent adoptions are an important step in cementing your legal relationship with your spouse’s child. Whether or not you choose to take that step is entirely up to you and your spouse. There are no state laws requiring a step-parent to claim legal responsibility for their partner’s child, but there are some clear advantages to doing so. Among these is that, as a legal parent, if something were to happen to your spouse, you would automatically assume custody of the child. Without that protection or some other legal protection in place, you could lose all contact with your child, regardless of how long you’ve been parenting them.

Understanding Your Adoption Options

State laws about step parent adoption vary. An experienced adoption attorney can help you better understand the laws and requirements where you live, and give you the guidance you need to make the best decision for your family. At Jennifer Fairfax Family Formation Law Offices, we have the information you need and the experience to ensure your adoption process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us today about step parent adoption, second parent adoption, international adoption, adult adoption, and other ways to grow your family.


“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax