How do you adopt a stepchild?

Posted by Lauren S. CohenMar 21, 20210 Comments

If your new spouse has children, adopting them may be high on your priority list. After all, adoption legally protects the relationship you have with your stepchildren. If you eventually decide to divorce your spouse, a stepchild adoption also gives you certain rights and may ensure you have a future relationship with the young ones in your blended family. 

To protect children and biological parents, New York law has some strict laws for stepchild adoption. The law is blind to sexual orientation, though, so both same-sex and opposite-sex couples may go through the stepchild adoption process. 

The consent of the biological parents

For a stepchild adoption to proceed in the Empire State, both biological parents must consent to the adoption. This means your spouse and your stepchildren's other biological parent must agree. If obtaining consent is not possible, you may be able to argue the parent has waived the consent requirement by not taking responsibility for the kids or not otherwise participating in their lives. 

The consent of the child

If the stepchild you want to adopt if over the age of 14, he or she must also consent. No consent is necessary for children over 18, though, as their age turns the process into an adult adoption.  

Your background

Before approving a stepchild adoption, the judge must be certain you have not committed certain offenses or endangered any children. Consequently, you should prepare to have your fingerprints taken and for officials to run a comprehensive background check.  

The home study report

Finally, the judge is likely to ask a social worker to conduct a home study and prepare a report. A main purpose of this step is to ensure you are fit to be the legal parent of your stepchildren. If they have lived with you for at least a year, you probably do not have to become a certified adoptive parent, though.  

There are a few ways to prepare for both your home study and the overall stepchild adoption process. While adopting your stepchildren may take some time, your dedication is likely to benefit both you and your stepchildren.