Many blended families see adopting a stepchild as a way to strengthen the new relationship. And in most states, stepparent adoption is a relatively easy process.
Unlike outside adoptions by unrelated third parties, a stepparent adoption doesn’t typically require the same scrutiny such as home studies and lengthy hearings. There is still paperwork that must be completed and the adoption must be approved by the court but much of the initial investigation is often waived.
As with any adoption, consent must be obtained from the non-custodial biological parent. If the parent refuses consent and has strong ties with the child, the stepparent adoption will likely be denied.
Before pursuing a stepparent adoption, you should consider whether it is truly the best thing for the child. While you may see it as a way to bring your new family closer together, keep in mind that the child may not want to sever his ties with his birth parent. By adopting your stepchild, the biological parent will no longer have any parental rights and all legally allowed visitations will cease. If the child and parent maintain regular communication and continue to have a strong relationship, be aware that the adoption could cause emotional and psychological harm to the child.
In these cases, it may be best to remain a stepparent and allow the child to continue his or her relationship with their biological parent. Everyone’s situation is unique, but use your best judgment, and always consider the welfare of the child.
You may enjoy this book on the overall adoption process.