Legally adopting your stepchild is a big step. Doing so offers a lot of benefits, the main one being that you and your stepchild officially become “family.” That gives you certain rights to custody and visitation if you and your spouse divorce. It also imposes a support obligation on you for that child’s welfare. Your stepchild also gains inheritance rights and the right to important benefits if you should die.
But stepparent adoption isn’t always right for every family. Here are a few things to consider as you debate the option:
- Is your stepchild’s other parent in the picture? If so, that may make stepparent adoption difficult or impossible unless they give their consent because their parental rights will end with the adoption.
- What does your stepchild think about the idea? Some kids may be very excited about the idea, but others may have their doubts. Don’t take it personally if your stepchild hesitates. An adoption, in many ways, makes them a whole new person. Not every kid can adapt to that idea.
- How does your family feel about the adoption? What about your stepchild’s other family members? Adoption can create issues with extended family members that can make your experience difficult. While that shouldn’t stop you, it should inform your decisions as you move forward.
- Are you ready for the realities of adoption? Adoption is usually a cause for celebration, but you have to prepare for the unpleasant times that may come ahead with as your stepchild matures, rebels and develops their own way of living.
If you’d like to learn more about stepparent adoption, consider making an appointment to discuss the process and your options. An experienced perspective can help you decide.