Your spouse and your stepchild came as a package deal — and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that you’ve been part of your stepchild’s life for some time, is it time to make your relationship more formal through stepparent adoption?
There are significant benefits that can come from adopting a stepchild — and you may not even realize them.
How adopting your stepchild is beneficial
Your quasi-legal relationship with your stepchild can be a problem when you want to pick them up from school or schedule medical services. Since you’re not their legal guardian or biological parent, you may not be allowed.
You may also feel like you have less of a say in your stepchild’s upbringing unless you solidify your legal connection to them. Adopting your stepchild will afford you rights equal to your spouse when it comes to making medical, religious and educational decisions on their behalf. Going through the process to adopt your child will also allow you to pass on an inheritance to your stepchild, much like what would happen with a biological child. If anything happens to you, they’d also be entitled to claim your Social Security or other benefits.
Adoption will also prevent future problems. if something happens to your spouse, you could easily lose custody of your stepchild to one of their biological relatives — and that could be emotionally devastating for both you and your stepchild.
An adoption can eliminate the need for you and your stepchild to continue using the prefix “step” to refer to one another. Although this seems trivial, it may aid you and your stepchild in growing closer to one another. That can be particularly important if you and your spouse have a new child: Adoption could erase the arbitrary lines in your family structure.
Find out more about the adoption process
Like any adoption, there are some steps you’ll need to take before the court bestows parental rights upon you. An attorney can go over what those steps are so you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect in your case.