In this world of blended families, stepparents are a lot more common than ever before. Most of the time, the children go back and forth between their biological parents, and interact with their stepparents accordingly. But what about if the child’s other biological parent is absent or otherwise not in the picture? Could a stepparent adopt that child? Let’s look at an example where that would be not only possible but it would be best for everyone in this family.
“Courtney had grown up with Greg in her life since she was little – 2 or 3 years old – when he first met and started dating Sharon, Courtney’s mom. Courtney’s biological dad, Shawn – who her mom Sharon liked to refer to as “sperm donor” – ran off with another woman and divorced Sharon only 6 months after Courtney was born. Sharon said it was because Shawn never wanted kids and was scared of the responsibility. Greg came into their lives shortly after and Greg and Sharon soon got married. Greg never made Courtney call him dad or anything, but, not really having a relationship with her biological dad Shawn, Courtney often found herself referring to Greg as “Dad”. Soon, it was the only way she ever referred to him – except when she was really mad at him. Then, he was demoted to “Greg” again. But never for very long.
Courtney was 14 years old when she first learned in school that stepparents could adopt their stepkids. Courtney had no idea this was even a thing – she had zero contact with Shawn, her biological dad, these days, and it bothered her that her last name wasn’t the same as her mom or step-dad, Greg’s. So that night, at dinner, Courtney asked if her parents had ever heard of step-parent adoption – much to her parent’s surprise. They told her yes, they had heard of it, and even looked in it – much to Courtney’s surprise. She was kind of mad and asked why they hadn’t told her about it before now. They let her know that, since it would sever all ties with Shawn, they wanted to be respectful of her wishes and not try and force something on her without talking to her first. They surprised her even further and said that, now that she was 14, she could legally decide to agree to an adoption or decline, and they had been planning on talking about it with her soon – they just weren’t sure of the timing. Courtney quickly got over being mad and instead stated “uh, duh, I want you to adopt me, dad” to Greg, and shared how she was always bothered by her last name not being the same as Greg and her mom Sharon’s. The family was elated and quickly made plans to meet with a lawyer and get everything they needed for the adoption. This included a signed paper by Courtney stating she wanted to be adopted by her step-dad Greg.
The only wild card was Shawn – would he give up his rights? Or would he fight? If he fought, it’d be an uphill battle for him since he didn’t call, didn’t pay child support, and hadn’t even sent a Christmas card since Courtney was 5 years old. Thankfully, their lawyer tracked Shawn down in another state, talked with Shawn, and Shawn agreed to sign over his rights to Greg.
Now that all the paperwork was ready and in order, the family went to the courthouse together, told the judge their story, and the judge happily granted the adoption. Courtney got to change her last name, and now, forever after, could call Greg “Dad” and not have to add “step” or anything to it – though sometimes, when she was mad at him, she still had the urge to call him “Greg” – but that actually deflated her anger, since she’d always remember that now, he was really and truly her Dad.”
Stepparent adoptions are really wonderful with all the blended families these days. Sometimes, the other parent is in the child’s life and wants to be. In those cases, you don’t really need a stepparent adoption, as it’s usually more beneficial for the child to have both biological parents and any stepparents in their life – the more support for a child, the better!
But, in those instances where the other parent is absent, deceased, or, even worse, toxic and dangerous, that is when you as a stepparent would want to think about adopting your stepchild. This is because, if anything happens to your spouse, your stepchild will end up going to live with their other parent most likely – and that could be very traumatic at best and downright dangerous at worst. The stability and finality of an adoption is a very important thing in a child’s life, when there is a wonderful stepparent, and a not-so-good or absent other parent.
In order to adopt a stepchild, your spouse (the child’s biological parent) needs to consent, of course, and you have to currently be married to them. Then, you have to get the other parent to either voluntarily sign over their parental rights, or you have to ask a judge to terminate their rights involuntarily. If your stepchild is 14 years old or older, they must consent to the adoption, or else the judge may not grant it. All in all, there are many instances where it is a definite win-win situation to adopt a stepchild.
Up Next – Adult Adoptions in Georgia
Next, we’ll be looking at when an adult can adopt another adult in Georgia. Stay tuned!