Being a stepparent is difficult. You have undoubtedly experienced moments of doubt and frustration, but with persistence and compassion, you have won the heart of your stepchild. Now you are thinking that this may be the right time to adopt your stepchild to offer him or her the legal benefits of your parenthood as well as the emotional ones.
Your desire to solidify your relationship with your stepchild is a personal and delicate one. You have likely considered this move for some time but worried about the complications, especially when dealing with the child's biological parent.
Obtaining consent from the biological parent
The adoption process may be slow and careful for the protection of the child. After filing for permission to adopt, you will likely have to do the following:
- Submit to a homestudy
- Live with the stepchild for at least six months after filing an adoption petition
- Gain consent of the biological parent
If the biological parent has maintained contact with the child, you will have to seek the parent's consent to begin adoption proceedings. If, for whatever reason, the courts have already terminated the parental rights of your stepchild's father or mother, you don't need to request consent to adopt.
Ohio laws have certain standards a biological parent must meet to avoid losing parental rights during an adoption. This may work in your favor, although the courts generally side with a biological parent in such cases. The parent should have meaningful communication with the child, including providing adequate financial support, for at least one year before your petition to adopt.
The best opportunity for a successful adoption
While some counties in Ohio allow stepparents to petition for the adoption of a child without the help of a lawyer, legal counsel is always beneficial when so much is on the line, as in adoptions. Having the assistance of an attorney will ensure that you have covered every base and taken every step to successfully complete the adoption process.
An attorney will help you navigate the complex issues that may arise while the court considers your petition and will represent your interests and rights during the process. Although the process may be tricky and uncertain, if you are successful in adopting your stepchild, you will undoubtedly reap many rewards.