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Overcoming obstacles to stepparent adoption

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2021 | Child custody

A stepparent can be just as loving and protective as a biological parent. But the fact is that a stepparent does not have the same rights that a birth parent has. Thus, adopting a stepchild can be an essential priority for stepparents across California.

If you are exploring your options for adopting your partner’s child, you should know that obstacles can arise. Fortunately, there are usually ways to overcome them.

Getting consent

If a child has two legal parents, one of them will need to waive their parental rights to allow another party to adopt. And both parents will need to consent to the adoption. 

If the other parent is not involved in the child’s life, getting consent for adoption in California can be as simple as serving the other parent with the necessary paperwork.

However, if they do not consent, you can go to court to seek approval from a judge. You can work with your attorney to build a case showing that the other parent abandoned your stepchild or that the adoption is best for the child’s well-being.

It can also be challenging to track down a birth parent, but you must make a concerted effort to do so. You can try contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles, sending a certified letter to their last known address or hiring a private investigator.

Setting boundaries for contact

Stepchild adoption may terminate the legal rights of a child’s biological parent, but there could still be relationships that parties wish to protect. 

For instance, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles on the biological parent’s side may still want to be part of a child’s life. If this is something you are willing to consider, setting boundaries for contact can be crucial.

You might think about scheduling visits or talking to these parties about what is acceptable in terms of calls, messages and other interactions.

Navigating the legal system

Stepparent adoption can be easier than traditional adoption, but it is still a legal process. You must file paperwork, attend hearings and pay the necessary fees. These can seem like simple requirements, but missteps could delay adoption or potentially compromise it altogether. 

Overcoming these obstacles can be frustrating, but it is not impossible. Knowing what to expect can help you make informed decisions that ultimately help you successfully adopt your stepchild.

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