You've been with your spouse for a few years now, and together with your stepchild you've created a new family unit. You want to make it official and adopt the child, but how? In some ways, stepchild adoption can be much easier than other forms of adoption. But it can also present unique challenges.
In Florida, stepchild adoption requires the consent of multiple parties. It's important to know whose approval you need before you get started.
The birth parents
For stepchild adoption, the birth mother's consent is always required. Under many circumstances, the birth father needs to approve the adoption as well. This is required if:
- He was married to the birth mother during the pregnancy or birth of the child.
- He adopted the child.
- A court or government office has officially acknowledged him as the father.
If either birth parent is unable or refuses to consent, the court can potentially override this.
Depending on the age of the stepchild, they may have a say in their adoption as well. In Florida, any child over the age of 12 can decide whether they consent to their own adoption by a stepparent.
Just like with parental consent, the court has the right to decide that it is in the child's best interest to disregard their decision.
After you obtain the necessary approvals, the legal process of adopting can begin. This undertaking can be quite involved, but there is a bright side. Because you have been living with your stepchild and are married to their parent, you get to skip many of the steps. For instance, you don't need to have a home study done, and you don't need to involve an agency.
The entire process will likely be much faster, meaning you can get back to growing as an even closer family in less time.