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The Basics of a Stepparent Adoption

 Posted on July 16, 2018 in Adoption

Lombard adoption attorneyIf your spouse has a child from a previous relationship, you know how sensitive and complex issues related to parenting can be. While you may not be the child’s biological parent, it is understandable that you would wish to offer a positive, reliable adult influence for the child—not to mention an authority figure with whom the child is comfortable sharing concerns and problems. With time and effort, you are likely to find a sense of family starting to develop. In some situations, the bond becomes so strong that the stepparent is willing to take on the legal responsibilities of parenthood through the adoption process.

Is the Adoption Appropriate?

When you are thinking about a potential stepparent adoption, you must be aware that the decision to adopt affects the child as much or more than it affects you. You might ready, willing, and able to accept the duties of a legal parent, but that is not enough to make the adoption the right choice. If the child has a healthy, productive relationship with a second parent—other than your spouse—there is little reason to try to cut that parent out of the picture, and a stepparent adoption would probably not serve the best interests of the child. If, however, there is effectively no second parent or the other parent has shown to be uninterested in being a parent, your adoption might serve the child well.

Terminating the Other Parent’s Rights

Illinois law allows a person to have just two legal parents. This means that if you wish to become your child’s legal parent, the rights of the other parent—if there is one—will need to be terminated. (The child might not have a second legal parent if paternity was never established or if the other parent is deceased.) The other parent can voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights to clear the way for the adoption. In doing so, he or she will also end any child support obligations for that child.

If the other parent does not agree to the adoption, however, only the court can override the refusal—and only if the court finds that terminating the other parent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests. Unless you have grounds to allege that the other parent is unfit, his or her refusal will effectively end the prospect of your adoption.

The Child’s Wishes

A child aged 14 or older must also consent in writing to a stepparent adoption. If the child has a developmental disability or mental health condition that affects the ability to make and understand such a decision, the requirement for the child’s consent may be waived.

We Can Help

To learn more about stepparent adoptions in Illinois or to get the process started, contact an experienced Lombard adoption attorney at A. Traub & Associates. Call 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.


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