As a stepparent, you may care greatly for your stepchildren and want to give them a good future. Your situation may allow you to adopt your stepchildren and become their legal parent. While this could be a rewarding experience for all involved, adoption is a major life-changing event. Therefore, it is not something to enter into lightly.
You should figure out in advance whether a stepparent adoption is worth it or even a realistic option. WebMD explains different situations that you should take into account before seeking to become the legal parent of your stepchildren.
The role of the noncustodial parent
If you have married the custodial parent of your stepchildren, you should consider the role of the noncustodial parent. It is possible the noncustodial parent has little interaction with their children or none at all. In any case, the noncustodial parent will likely have to sign away his or her parental rights or a court must remove them for you to go ahead with the adoption.
The consent of the children
Pay close attention to the wishes of your stepchildren. They may want you to adopt them, but they could still feel an attachment to their noncustodial parent. They might need time to work through emotional issues before they are ready for you to adopt them. Also, check to see if state law requires your stepchildren to consent to the adoption.
A criminal background check
Stepparent adoptions tend to be less complicated than other adoptions because a stepparent is already involved with the lives of the children he or she wishes to adopt. Still, you might have to undergo a criminal background check to look for any red flags that might cause state authorities to question your fitness as an adoptive parent.
The aforementioned steps may be difficult to deal with. Fortunately, you do not have to handle them alone. Your own parents or stepparents, as well as other family members, friends and family professionals, are possible options to give you support as you build your blended family.