Being a stepparent is a truly unique and rewarding experience. While some people in California wonder whether they could truly love a child who is not biologically theirs, you know that it is not only possible, but that it is better than anyone could ever imagine. Unfortunately, not matter how deeply you care for your stepchild, you might have no legal rights to him or her should anything happen to your spouse. A stepparent adoption can address that problem while making your relationship official.
If your stepchild’s other parent is out of the picture because of death or termination of parental rights, you can move forward with the adoption process. If this is not the case, you and your spouse will need to have the rights of the other biological parent terminated. If it’s been over a year since the other parent last contacted your stepchild, then termination of his or her rights will usually proceed quickly.
Contrary to popular belief, contact does not have to be in person. Talking with a child over the phone, texting or even messaging over social media all count as contact. Although maintaining contact with the child will not make terminating their rights impossible, it can make the matter more complicated as family law courts are typically hesitant to terminate the rights of a parent who appears to be involved even from afar.
We understand the unique and even sometimes difficult nature of relationships between stepparents and their stepchildren, but we also know that you would not have it any other way. California families who are interested in starting the stepparent adoption process should be certain that they understand the full implications of terminating parental rights, the process for filing and any additional resources that may help them during and after the process. More information about this process and how you can establish a legal bond with your stepchild can be found here on our website.