Blended families are becoming more and more common. But why would a stepparent need to legally adopt their stepchildren? Isn’t being a stepparent enough? Here are a few things to consider when looking into stepparent adoption.
1. If the child has a completely absent parent, adoption may add another layer of security for the child.
Often, when a parent marries or remarries, it’s easy for a children to feel left out. They went from being the most important relationship in their parent’s life, to sharing that loved one with another adult. If the child has previously experienced a parent walking away, adoption may be one route for a stepparent to demonstrate wanting to build a permanent relationship with the child(ren), and not just with the child’s parent.
2. It may help the stepparent make legal what has already been happening: parenting.
A stepparent can often feel like a bit like a beloved camp counselor. A stepparent may perform all the duties of a parent, while having zero legal rights. Adoption allows the stepparent to make decisions on behalf of their stepchild, like signing permission slips, medical care, and other important life decisions. It can help make the stepparent feel more like a family member than a camp counselor.
3. In the case of divorce, the child still has two parents.
As stated above, stepparents have no legal rights over their spouse’s children, unless they legally adopt them. If the parents should get a divorce, the adoptive parent has all the legal rights of the biological parent. This includes visitation, medical care, religious decisions, expenses, and the like.
4. It evens the playing field.
In the case where there are children from different relationships being raised in the same family, formal adoption can help level the playing field in the house. There is no longer ‘yours’ and ‘mine.’ All the kids are ‘ours.’ The formality of adoption allows for even inheritance, medical coverage, decision making, and the like.
If you’re interested in learning more in stepparent adoption, click here.