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How to know if stepparent adoption is right for your family

Marrying someone who has children from a previous relationship can be both rewarding and challenging. As time goes on, you may start considering adopting your stepchildren, or perhaps that was always your intention, even before the wedding.

While it is a noble desire, stepparent adoption is not right for every situation. Here are some ways to tell if it is a good choice for your family.

Harmful relationship with the biological parent

A common reason why a stepparent may want to adopt stepchildren is the children's biological parent causes harm. The person may be abusive, neglectful, narcissistic or completely absent. He or she may also struggle with an addiction or be in and out of jail.

If the negative aspects of the relationship outweigh the positive, it may be in the children's best interests to legally cut ties with the parent and allow for a better role model and caretaker to step in. However, if the parent contests the adoption, first consider the impact it will have on the children before proceeding.

Positive relationship with the stepparent

Just because the biological parent is not fit to be in the picture does not automatically mean that the stepparent is the best person to have legal rights over the children. There should be a bond between all parents that would make adoption a mutually desired choice. In fact, Ohio law states that children who are at least 13 years old must give their own consent to the adoption unless the court decides it is in their best interest. 

Stability

Do not despair if your stepchildren have not warmed up to you yet. Adoption may still be the right choice if it offers them financial and emotional stability:

  • Everyone will have the same last name.
  • The stepparent will have legal parental rights to the children in case of emergency or divorce.
  • The stepchildren will have rights to inheritance and other benefits.

If the biological parent and new spouse have children together, then adoption of the stepchildren can help unify the family.

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