In some blended families, stepparents take on the role of a primary parent. In these cases, the stepparent and his or her spouse often want to protect that stepparent’s relationship with the child. If the child’s other parent is willing (and sometimes even when they are unwilling), some stepparents choose to adopt the stepchild as their own. Stepparent adoptions are usually simpler and quicker than other adoptions. That said, all adoptions have significant emotional and financial implications, and all issues should be considered prior to deciding whether stepparent adoption is right for your family.
To accomplish a stepparent adoption, the child’s relationship with one of his or her biological parents must be legally terminated. In most stepparent adoptions, this is done by consent of the biological parent, but can also be done if the biological parent’s rights are terminated involuntarily. If the child is over 14 years of age, the child’s consent will be required for the adoption to proceed. See RCW 26.33.160(1)(c). While a pre-placement report will not be required in most stepparent adoption cases, a post-placement report is always required. RCW 26.33.220. After the post-placement adoption is completed, a hearing can be noted to enter the final decree of adoption. After the stepparent adoption, the adopted parent (formerly stepparent) will have the same rights to the child as any adoptive parent would. Should the biological and adoptive parent every end their marriage, the adoptive parent will retain parental rights to his or her adopted child.
If you are considering a stepparent adoption, or if your child’s other parent is requesting that you permit their spouse to adopt your child, you should speak with a family law attorney about your options. We would be honored if you chose to contact us.