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What to expect when trying to adopt your stepchildren

The adoption process is a wonderful and fulfilling way for a Florida family to grow. In many cases, an adoption is simply legally establishing and recognizing the strong relationships that a stepparent may have with his or her stepchildren. If you want to undertake this process yourself, it may help to first learn as much as possible about what to expect. 

There are legal requirements in order to complete the stepparent adoption process. In order for you to fulfill your desire to adopt the biological children of your spouse, the other biological parent will have to relinquish parental rights. This is often the biggest challenge in a stepparent adoption. It is beneficial to have guidance as you walk through this process.

Parental rights and your options

In any case involving the stepparent's adoption of his or her spouse's biological children, parental rights will be an important factor. The other parent may willingly give up his or her parental rights, but as you can imagine, a mother or father may be reluctant to do this. If there is a valid reason to do so, the court may terminate parental rights.

Family law courts take the termination of parental rights very seriously. There are limited circumstances in which the court may consider termination of rights, primarily in cases in which the parent is absent or incapable of caring for the child. Examples of this include:

  • Parent incarcerated
  • Parent has history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Physical abuse of the child by the parent
  • Abandonment and lack of financial support
  • No effort to care for or remain in contact with the child
  • Parent unfit for any reason 

After resolving this issue, you may move forward with completing the adoption of your stepchild. When this is complete, you will have the rights and responsibilities of any biological parent.

Addressing your family law concerns 

The adoption process is complex, and you will find great benefit in seeking experienced legal guidance as you navigate each step. In fact, it may be helpful to first discuss your goals and objectives with an experienced family law attorney before moving forward.

Any significant step or decision that impacts your family should come after careful consideration of all of the options available to you and implications of those choices. In your case, adopting your stepchildren may be a reasonable way to solidify the loving relationship you already have with the children of your spouse.

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