In reality, you consider your stepchild part of the family, just like you do your children. However, it is important to formalize this arrangement to avoid any loose ends.
Besides giving your child a sense of belonging, formally adopting them means that you can make decisions about important aspects of their life since the law now recognizes you as the legal parent. However, there are certain things that you need to take into consideration if you intend to adopt your stepchild.
Do you have the consent of both parents?
In most cases, the non-custodial parent has to approve the adoption. Doing so means that they waive their parental rights and can no longer be involved in the child’s life. Therefore, it is crucial to have a formal agreement that can be used as a reference point in the future.
You may not need their consent if they have had their parental rights terminated by the courts or if they have abandoned the child.
You also need to file an adoption petition
After getting consent, you are required to file an adoption petition. Here the judge will set a hearing date if they need further clarification on your adoption and also to seek consent from the child if they are above the age of 12. Usually, this process takes 60 to 90 days after which, you will be issued with a certificate of adoption that is used to apply for a new birth certificate.
Anticipate any legal issues
It is essential that you go through all the required steps in the adoption process to be on the safe side. Keeping in mind that mistakes can happen along the way, you should be well prepared for anything that may come in the course of your adoption plans.