Through a stepparent adoption, the natural child of one spouse becomes the legal child of the other spouse. Once a child is adopted, there are no legal differences between the natural children and children from another marriage. If you are considering adopting your stepchild, there are a few factors to consider to help your family through the process.
Consent is Key to Stepparent Adoption
A stepparent adoption is a form of related adoption. However, in this type of related adoption, the other parent must provide consent for the adoption. Sometimes, the other birth parent may agree that stepparent adoption is in the best interests of the child. In these cases, it may not be difficult to obtain consent. The adoption will be more complex if the child’s other biological parent does not provide consent.
It is possible to terminate the other biological parent’s rights and eliminate the need to obtain his or her consent. You may terminate the other parent’s rights if you can demonstrate that the parent is unfit. Under the Illinois Adoption Act, a parent can be found unfit if he or she:
- Abandoned the child;
- Deserted the child for more than three months;
- Demonstrated extreme or repeated cruelty to the child;
- Neglected the child;
- Neglected any child living the household that resulted in the death of that child; or
- Failed to show a reasonable degree of concern or responsibility for the child’s welfare.
A parent may also be found unfit if:
- The parent was physically abusive;
- The parent has been convicted of a crime; or
- The parent failed to protect the child from dangerous conditions within the environment.
Will the Other Biological Parent Have Rights?
Part of the reason why consent is difficult to obtain is because providing consent means that the other parent gives up all of his or her parental rights and responsibilities. The other parent will not be responsible for paying child support and will not have legally enforceable rights to visitation. It is possible, however, that the parents can develop an informal agreement for contact; however, a court will not enforce the informal agreement.
Contact an Attorney
In Illinois, a stepparent adoption can be a relatively easy process if the child’s mother/father consents to the adoption. If the parent does not consent, then it can be complicated. The law will attempt to protect parents against unjustified termination of rights. The law will also attempt to protect a parent’s rights to ensure children are not unjustifiably taken away from their parents.
If you are attempting to unite your family through a stepparent adoption, you may be struggling with your next steps. It may not be clear whether the other biological parent will provide consent, or you may feel hesitant about initiating adoption proceedings. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, please contact the DuPage County adoption lawyers at Davi Law Group, LLC. We can help you and your spouse review your options and figure out the best option for your family. Please contact us today at 630-580-6373 to discuss your case.