- 1. Consult an Adoption Attorney and/or Step Parent Adoption Laws in Your State
Each State will vary on step parent adoptions so it's wise to speak to an attorney. An adoption attorney will know your State's adoption laws. You will also need to find out how your State defines consent to adoption.2. Consent to Adoption
In order for an adoption to take place consent must be given. With adoption, usually both birth parents must consent for an adoption to take place. With a step parent adoption, if the non-custodial parent objects State laws may prevent the adoption from taking place. Some States have special circumstances where the non-custodial parent’s consent is not needed. Other States have special provisions that allow the step parent adoption to take place even with objections. These provisions include lack of communication between the child and non-custodial parent for a period of time.
Another consent that may be needed is that of the child. If the child is old enough to understand it is wise to discuss the adoption with the child. In nearly all States there are requirements where children must give consent to adoption if over a certain age. Some States say 14, while others set the age of consent at 12, a few have gone as young as 10. Per State law a child's signature is needed for an adoption to take place if the child is at the age of consent.3. Contact the Court that Handles Adoptions in Your County
Ask for an information packet on step parent adoptions. If they do not have that type of information prepared for mailing, ask the following:
- Can you represent yourself or do you need an attorney?
- Do you need an adoption home study? If so sign up for a home study right away as this takes time. Also, be aware that a completed home study is good for only one year.
- What forms are needed and where can you find these forms?
If you have an attorney he/she will complete this step.5. Wait for Notification of Court Date
The notification will come by letter or through your attorney. You usually have to attend this hearing.6. The Hearing
The judge or magistrate will question the parties involved. Your attorney should prepare you for this hearing. The judge or magistrate will set a date for the finalization of the adoption.7. Finalize the Adoption
Adoption certificates are issued at this hearing.8. Apply for the Amended Birth Certificates
After finalization apply for amended birth certificates.
SOURCE: The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC)