Many pop culture portrayals of stepparents cast these family members as villains or having a contentious relationship with their stepchild. In reality, some stepparents are more loving and parental to their spouse’s children than biological parents.
Children who feel a close bond with their stepparent and don’t have that same connection to a biological parent may want to ask their stepparent to adopt them. A quick YouTube search of “stepparent adoption” will produce a few tear-jerking videos.
If your child is considering this option, here are some of Pennsylvania’s adoption laws you should be aware of.
Who needs to consent?
In Pennsylvania, a child’s consent to adoption is needed if they are 12 years and older. You can file paperwork yourself for a younger child without their legal consent. Whether or not you would like to wait to present a stepparent with adoption papers until your child is of the legal age of consent is up to you and your child.
In general, a birth parent must consent to an adoption, except in circumstances when a child may be removed from a home. If the birth parent contests the adoption, an attorney can work with you and your ex to resolve any disputes in a non-confrontational way, sparing everyone from litigation.
Who may adopt?
Pennsylvania is one of the least restrictive states when it comes to adoptions. It does not prohibit any adult from adopting, and even allows some minors to adopt (such as an older child adopting a younger sibling).
Who can be adopted?
Again, the options in Pennsylvania are fairly open for adoptees. Adults may choose to have someone else legally adopt them if they wish.
How does adoption work?
The adoption process in Pennsylvania varies from county to county, so the steps will be different depending on your residence. An adoption attorney can help guide you through the procedures needed for your county so that the paperwork your child presents to their stepparent has all the necessary details and can be filed efficiently.
While your child’s relationship with their stepparent is already beautiful and special, the gift of asking to be adopted can mean the world to them. As with marriage, having the “official” declaration of the relationship can deepen the connection and be incredibly meaningful.