A stepparent-stepchild relationship can have its challenges and adjustment periods but can also be very rewarding. Adoption can legally honor the love you have for your stepchildren, as well as give you full parental rights over them until they turn 18.
In Indiana, stepparent adoption generally is not a complicated process. The only serious potential problem you might face is the objection of your stepchildren’s other biological parent.
If your stepchildren’s parent does not consent
As long as that parent objects, the adoption cannot proceed. You need consent from both biological parents. And the parent you are not married to might not be ready to give up their legal rights. If so, you will have to petition the court to terminate the biological parent’s rights.
Reasons a judge might terminate someone’s parental rights include:
- Parent is unfit
- The man presumed to be the father under the law is not actually the children’s biological father
Abandonment means the parent has either continuously failed to pay child support or has disappeared from their children’s lives for at least six months before you filed the adoption petition. An unfit parent is one who is abusive or neglectful toward the children, is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or otherwise should not be around the kids. Finally, in rare cases, the man presumed to be a child’s biological father (such as being married to the mother when the child was born) is not, in fact, related to the child. In that case, the law granted him parental rights by mistake.
Having the right adoption lawyer matters
Adoption can be a confrontational process. That is why it is important to work with an attorney who practices adoption law and can guide you through any possible complications.