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Stepparents who want to adopt a child might face challenges

Marrying a person who has a child from a previous relationship is a big step. For some stepparents, the love for their stepchild transcends their understanding. The desire of the stepparent to care for their stepchild might be so great that the stepparent decides to try to adopt the child. While it is true that stepparent adoption is possible and often easier than a non-family adoption, there are some specific challenges that are part of a stepparent adoption.

One factor that comes into the picture is parental rights. A stepparent can't adopt a stepchild if the child's other birth parent -- the birth parent that the stepparent isn't married to -- still has parental rights. If the stepchild and the other birth parent are close, a stepparent adoption isn't possible.

In order for the stepparent to adopt the child, the child's other parent's rights must be terminated. This can be done voluntarily if the parent agrees or through the court if the other birth parent is an unfit or absent parent.

Stepparents who are interested in adopting a stepchild should understand what the adoption means. The adoption means that the stepparent is taking full responsibility for the child. That includes financial support for the child.

For stepparents who are considering adoption, learning about the process might make the decision easier. Oftentimes, the process isn't as involved as adoptions that don't involve a familial relationship. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, you should look into how the adoption affects your responsibilities, as well as the benefits of the adoption, so that you have all the information you need to make a decision.

Source: FindLaw, "Stepparent Adoption FAQ's," accessed Oct. 28, 2015

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