Adoption is one of the best ways to bring blended families together. Stepparent adoptions allow children in stepfamilies the ability to become legal members of the family. There are many reasons that a stepparent may want to adopt a stepchild. Adoption establishes a legal relationship, and the child now may benefit from having the parent. Most importantly, children will feel a sense of belonging that can only come from a legal parental relationship.

Advantages to Stepparent Adoptions

There are a number of advantages to both the parent and the child as a result of a stepparent adoption. The child will be considered the same as a biological child for all purposes, including rights of inheritance. The parent is now legally able to act as a biological parent for all purposes. The parent will also now be responsible to provide for the child’s needs.

Requirements of Stepparent Adoptions

Before an adoption can take place, several legal requirements must be met. First, the child must be legally available for adoption. This means that the child’s other biological parent must give written consent to the adoption, or the parental rights must have been terminated. In cases where the child’s father is not in the picture, the parent must be served with a legal request. If he fails to respond within the allotted time period, the courts can terminate his legal parental rights.

Next, the stepparent must go through a background check to verify that he is an acceptable parent. Fingerprinting is also necessary.  Additionally, a home check may be required. The stepparent must be legally married to the biological mother for at least a year and must have lived in the same residence with the child for at least six months prior to the adoption.

Adoption Process

The adoption process for stepparents and other relatives can be complex. The most important issue is to ensure that the child’s birth parent has relinquished his rights. If the father was never married to the mother, if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate, and if the father was never issued a court order stating he is the father, then it is not necessary for the father to sign away his parental rights.

An adoption petition must be filed with the court and the application will be reviewed. It is helpful to seek assistance from a knowledgeable adoption attorney before starting the process.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Stepparent Adoptions, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.