Adopting a stepchild can be a rewarding and life-changing experience as a family grows and becomes a legally recognized family unit. And while adoption itself is something to celebrate, the process of stepparent adoption can be far less enjoyable. Stepparent adoption can be complicated, but there are ways to successfully navigate the obstacles to reach the desired outcome.
The first roadblock in a stepparent adoption is obtaining consent from the child’s biological parent. Parental consent is required for stepparent adoption unless the parental rights of the child’s birth parents have been terminated. When the biological parent has a relationship with the child, they quite often do not wish to relinquish all their parental responsibilities in giving consent to adoption. If a male birth parent is objecting to consent and it can be legally proven that this parent does not meet Michigan’s legal definition of a presumed father, then their consent will not be necessary to proceed with a stepparent adoption.
Termination of the birth parent’s parental rights
When the biological parent refuses to consent to stepparent adoption, a judge can terminate their parental rights without their consent. To do so, the stepparent asking for the adoption must prove all of the following to be true by clear and convincing evidence:
- The parent married to the stepparent who is filing for adoption has sole or joint custody
- The biological parent has failed to contact or visit the child for two or more years
- The biological parent has failed to support the child financially for two or more years
- The biological parent had the ability to both support the child financially and to visit or contact the child during the two-year period
If you are considering stepparent adoption, an experienced adoption attorney can guide you through the process, protect your rights, and advocate for you and the child’s best interests.