Marrying someone who already has a child means that your family grows by more than one person instantly. You will need to consider your stepchild when planning date nights, scheduling your next vacation and budgeting your household finances.
You probably already had a decent bond with your stepchild before you married their parent, and that relationship has likely only deepened since you committed to your spouse. You may find yourself considering the adoption of your stepchild but worry that the process may not be worth all of the effort involved.
After all, you have to file complex paperwork and go to court to adopt your stepchild. What are the benefits that motivate people to follow through with the sometimes complex stepparent adoption process?
You secure legally valid parenting rights
Even if you have helped support and raise your stepchild since their birth, you may have an uphill battle to have a relationship with the child if you and your spouse ever divorce. When you adopt your stepchild and become their legal parent, you will have the same parental rights and responsibilities that your ex does if you ever divorce.
You can better provide benefits for the family
Depending on where you work and what kind of employment benefits you receive, you may not be able to offer the same support for your stepchild that you can offer for your biological children or your spouse. Adopting your stepchild could give them access to better health insurance and can also give them inheritance rights in the event that anything happens to you.
You let your stepchild know they are a priority
Stepchildren sometimes worry that stepparents are only kind to them because they care about their spouse. When you make the effort to legally adopt your stepchild, you make a commitment to them and let them know that you intend to be there for them for the rest of their life.
Although you do need to meet certain specific criteria to be eligible for a stepparent adoption and will need permission from your ex and possibly the other parent a stepchild, the benefits far outweigh the work involved. Seeing the benefits of a stepparent adoption can inspire you to finally start the process.