Adoption is a process that creates a legal parent-child status between parties who do not have a biological parent-child relationship. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents and children have the same rights and obligations as legal or biological parents and children.
The most common type of adoption we process is called “Step-Parent” adoption. The custodial parent (the parent that the children reside with) and the step-parent typically must be married to file for a step-parent adoption. Adoptions of this nature typically happen in one of two ways. Either the non-custodial (the parent that does not have custody of the children) parent consent (gives permission) for the step-parent to adopt the child(ren) or the custodial parent has to ask the court to terminate (suspend) the non-custodial parent’s rights. Typically, step-parent adoptions that have consent process quickly and effectively through the Court. Adoptions without consent require much more time and leg-work.
You will need several documents to begin the adoption process. You will need a comprehensive family medical history of both parents, contact information for the non-custodial parent, certified copies of the child(ren) original birth certificate, social security cards, Final Divorce Decree or Legitmation and more just to get started. If the non-custodial parent unable to be located, additional measure are required before the adoption process can proceed.
If you are in a situation where you are unable to locate the non-custodial parent (NCP) or the NCP is not willing to consent to the adoption, the Court requires an additional step called termination of parental rights. The custodial parent (CP) has to prove to the court that the NCP has not exercised any of his/her parental rights. This includes willful failure to visit with child(ren) or other parent, willful failure to provide financial support (child support) for the child(ren) – basically, the CP has to prove that the NCP has abandoned the child(ren) for an extended period of time and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child(ren).
Once the step-parent adoption is approved by the Court and finalized, it cannot be revoked or nullified unless some very rare & highly unusual circumstances arise.
The Court will alert the State Vital Records Department of the adoption so that the child(ren) birth certificates can be updated per the Court order. Once, the adoption has been recorded with the State and you receive your revised birth certificate, the parents are allowed to begin changing the children’s information with the office of Social Security, school records, medical records, etc.
Remember, one case or situation is rarely exactly the same as another. Adoption is a very complicated, meticulous and tedious process that will, most likely, require the assistance of an Attorney.
Please remember, this article is merely meant for guidance and information purposes. It is NOT intended as legal advice nor does it establish attorney/client relationship or privilege.