Raising a child can be the most fulfilling experience of your life. That is whether they are your biological child or not.
You live in the same house, take care of their needs and share special memories. So what is stopping you from taking over legal guardianship of this child?
With the responsibilities and unpredictability that comes with raising your stepchild, it might become necessary to consider a step parent adoption. You can think about adopting a child. Then under the eyes of God and in the eyes of the law, they will be your responsibility.
The Step Parent Adoption Process
Many step parents fear the adoption process because they don’t know what is involved in the process.
However, if you are with someone who already has a biological child or if you want your new partner to have custodial right to your biological child, this is a process that you need to have some understanding of.
Starting the Step Parent Adoption Process
To get the process going, you must first notify the local council three months in advance of sending in an application to the Court.
Within this time, a social worker will be assigned to the case and they will conduct a thorough inquiry into the matter. This is done so that they can objectively relay necessary information to the Court. It will give proof as to whether you are a suitable candidate to become the child’s legal parent.
Based on the findings, the social worker will either approve or disapprove of you getting custodial rights to the child.
They will access reports from a number of departments including the N.S.P.C.C., the Education Department (including the child’s school), Health Department, the Child Protection Register and the Criminal Records Bureau.
Also, for the application to be considered, the stepchild must have lived in the same household as the step parent, for a period no less than six months.
Biological Parent Consent
Another requirement is that the other biological parent has to give permission. Otherwise, the Court will require sufficient evidence to prove why they should not give consent.
Step Parent Involvement
The step parent must be overly involved in the stepchild’s life.
Anyone who is associated with the child or affected by the proceedings will be contacted by Local Authorities. The social worker will also have conversations with any other children in the household. As well as they will interview biological siblings not living in that household.
A judge will need to know why a step parent needs custodial right, how involved they are, what is the relationship like and what everyone else thinks about that possibility.
A Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) reporting officer will also be assigned to the case to ascertain whether the other biological parent gave their consent freely, especially if the case isn’t contested.
They will go through with the parent the implications of such a development.
The officer is also the one to oversee the formal signing of the agreement by both biological parents.
What Happens When The Other Biological Parent Does Not Give Consent?
In a case where one birth parent is against the application for a step parent gaining legal responsibility for the child, a Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service officer will be assigned to represent the child’s interest.
They will be known as a Children’s Guardian.
They will speak on behalf of the child in court.
The officer will also interview the stepchild, the biological parents and the step parent, the social worker and anyone else deemed related to the process.
After which, they too will create and submit a report to the Court, making recommendations about the case.
At the end of the day, the judge has the final say over all these matters.
Every judge will be looking at what is in the best interest of the stepchild for the duration of their life until they are an adult. It is not about what a step parent may want to happen. It is about what’s best for the child, first and foremost.
At the End of the Step Parent Adoption Process
When all is said and done, we hope that you will have a favorable outcome.
Being a parent can be challenging, however, it also has its rewards.
If you have been blessed to develop a loving stepparent and stepchild relationship, foster a healthy environment to help that bond to develop even greater over time.
Be patient, regardless of the challenges and use strong parenting techniques proven to work.
Children deserve the best parents that they can have even if you meet with opposition from a biological parent. Trust the system to make the right decision concerning your step parent adoption case, for you and your family.