Stepparent adoption: understanding the process

Adoption cases are often challenging for individuals who wish to become parents. Stepparent adoption can be complex since one of the children’s biological parents must give up parental rights for the adoption to be legal. If you’re a Pennsylvania resident, here are some important things to know about adoption if you’re a stepparent.

Termination of parental rights

A parent can give up their parental rights voluntarily if the patent is not in the child’s life. The termination also terminates any child support obligations. Termination of parental rights is the first phase of the stepparent adoption process.

Involuntary termination will only occur after a petition is filed with the court requesting the termination. The petition can be presented to the county once the child has been legally deemed a dependent and the courts do not believe reunification of the child and parent is possible.

Taking the next steps

The parent who is active in the child’s life must file the petition for the involuntary termination of parental rights if the other parent is absent or abusive. The courts will consider several factors, including how the termination will affect the child, before approving the involuntary termination. Once the absent parent’s rights have officially been terminated, the court will move forward with the stepparent adoption process.

The stepparent can legally adopt the child as long as their spouse consents. The child must also consent to the adoption if the child is 12 or older. The stepparent adopting the child will have to submit their criminal history to the court and may have to schedule a home visit from a county representative before the court will approve the stepparent adoption.