What you should know about stepparent adoptions
In Illinois, it is possible for stepparents to adopt their stepchildren under some circumstances. Doing so may be beneficial because it provides familial stability and makes sure that the stepchildren will remain with the stepparent in the case of their biological mother or father’s death. Adopting a stepchild also gives stepparents the same rights and responsibilities as the child’s biological parent, so they can seek custody or be held responsible for child support upon divorce.
Not all stepparents may adopt their stepchildren in Illinois. There are a few rules that need to be followed.
Getting permission to adopt your stepchild
The first thing to look at is getting permission to adopt a stepchild or stepchildren. You will need the permission of both biological parents, but if a biological parent has abandoned their child(ren) for at least 12 months, then this could be waived by the court.
If your stepchild or stepchildren are 14 or older, you may need to obtain their permission for the adoption as well. They must also be informed and understand that giving their permission means that the other birth parent won’t legally be a part of their lives any longer. By adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, you’ll essentially terminate the other biological parent’s rights.
Biological parents can contest stepparent adoptions
Be aware that it is possible for a biological parent to contest a stepparent adoption. If they are still alive and they have not abandoned your stepchildren, then you should do everything you can to get their permission to complete the adoption. If they disagree, you may end up in court. In court, a judge will need to determine if the termination of the biological parent’s rights is warranted. If not, then the adoption will not be able to go through.
If you’re ready to start the process of adoption, get the right support
Adopting a stepchild isn’t always easy, and you could find that you can adopt one but not another when there are multiple children involved in a stepparent adoption case. For this reason, it’s wise to get to know the laws and to have support as you start this process.