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Stepparent adoption: Important considerations and tips

 Posted on February 08, 2019 in Family Law

Adopting a stepchild can be a wonderful experience — and a move that will cement your family together forever. However, stepparent adoptions have some unique concerns that should be addressed.

Let’s talk about some of those concerns and discuss ways to deal with the issues that may arise:

1. The reason the birth parent is not in the picture

Most of the time, parents in this situation know exactly why the birth parent is no longer involved in the child’s life. Your stepchild, however, may have a lot of unspoken questions — and maybe a few insecurities that go along with the situation.

Tips for dealing with the issue:

  • Make it clear to the child that you’re willing to discuss the situation. Put your own feelings in check — particularly if they’re negative about the birth parent — and remember that what you say can have serious consequences for the child.
  • It’s okay to say things like, “Your birth father suffers from a condition that makes it hard for him to take care of himself, so he couldn’t take care of you,” or “We don’t really understand ourselves why your mother left. Something inside of her just made her an unhappy person.”
  • Reassure the child that he or she was in no way responsible for the birth parent’s absence — and make it clear that you won’t just leave the same way.

2. Decide how you intend to handle the issue of the birth parent’s extended family

Your stepchild’s birth parent may not be involved in your child’s life — but that doesn’t mean the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on that side of the family don’t want to be involved.

Tips for dealing with the issue:

  • If the relationship with those relatives is healthy, there’s no reason not to maintain them.
  • Reach out to the relatives involved and reassure them that you don’t intend to interfere with their relationship with the child.
  • Make sure that your child understands that “Grandma is still your grandmother,” and so on. Focus on the idea that there’s plenty of room for everyone in your unique family structure.

A stepparent adoption can involve numerous legal steps in addition to the emotional ones that need to be made. When you’re ready to adopt, talk to a family law attorney in order to get started.

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