For a variety of reasons, there are times when one parent of a child is either absent or unable to be available in their child’s life. In these situations, if the custodial parent re-marries, the stepparent may wish to obtain parental rights and legally adopt their stepchild. This process is called step parent adoption and it’s actually one of the most common forms of adoption in the United States.
A stepparent adoption can vary in complexity depending on whether the biological parent who would need to relinquish their parenting rights contests the adoption or not. If the biological parent gives their consent to the stepparent to adopt their child, then the process of adoption is relatively straight-forward.
For most Oregon stepparent adoptions, the biological parent will consent to adoption. If they refuse, however, then the case will undoubtedly become more complex. That being said, there are certain situations in which the primary parent and stepparent can fight to have the parenting rights waived, such as abandonment, mental-deficiencies, or imprisonment.
Steps for Adopting a Stepchild in OR
Are you and your spouse interested in moving forward with a stepparent adoption? Below are the requirements and steps you’ll need to meet and take in order to begin moving forward:
- Consent – For starters, any child over the age of 14 will need to mutually consent to being adopted. If they consent, or your child is under the age of 14, you’ll then need to acquire the consent of the custodial parent and the biological parent in question.
- Petition – If both parties agree with the adoption, they will need to submit a petition to the court for the process to begin.
- Evaluation – Following the petition, a post-placement evaluation may be conducted, in which the court will appoint a social worker to interview both parents (the custodial parent and their spouse) and ask questions regarding their employment and background to ensure it’s a good situation for a child to be adopted into. Often times, however, this step in the process can be waived.
- Confirmation of Consent – Confirmation of consent will need to be provided, which is proof for the court that the proper paperwork was served to the parent who will be relinquishing their rights
- Court Hearing – A hearing will be scheduled in which both parents (the primary caretaker and their spouse) will arrive to court with the child and make a case for why the adoption is in the best interest of the child. From here, the judge will review the documents and set a date for the adoption to be finalized. In Oregon, there is a 90-day waiting period before this can happen.
- Finalization – Once finalized, an adoption certificate is given to the adopting parents, which can then be used to amend the child’s birth certificate, and add the adopting-parent.
Stepparent adoption can be a great option for families who would benefit from having a stepparent become the lawful parent of their child. While this process can be straight-forward, it’s one that you want to ensure is being handled correctly, so that you can avoid bumps along the way.
In the very best case, an adoption is a paper-laden process that can be confusing if this is your first time adopting. In the worst case, the biological parent is unhealthy but refusing to relinquish rights, in which case you’ll want a strong attorney on your side to help fight for the best-case scenario for your child. If you find yourself in the latter situation, you’ll want a steadfast and competent attorney on your side to help guide you through the process and explain each step to you as you go.