Adoption by Step Parents: What to Expect
Modern families come in many different shapes and sizes. For example, non-married partners divorce or break-up after having children. Later, these individuals may find someone new and create mixed families with children living with step-parents with which they are not biologically related. In certain cases, the new partner may want to adopt his/her partner’s children.
Before taking any action regarding adoptions, however, you should consider all the legal ramifications that accompany step-parent adoption.
Step Parent Adoption Issues in Illinois
Adopting a child is a joyous event, but there are legal and practical matters that any new parent must understand. In Illinois, the “Adoption Act” establishes the rules concerning adoptions between various parties in the state.
In many cases, biological parents are hesitant to relinquish their parental rights, but there are circumstances under which a step-parent might be able to adopt. Those situations include:
- If a biological parent is deceased or has failed to make adequate efforts to be a part of the child’s life, a step-parent can petition for adoption of the child or children;
- If one of the biological parents is frequently incarcerated, habitually incapacitated due to drunkenness, or found to be unfit by depravity for a conviction of one or more crimes, then there is a possibility that the parental rights can be stripped from that parent by a court;
- There is also the possibility that the biological parent will relinquish their parental rights to the kids for any number of personal reasons.
Once the adoption is complete, the step-parent takes on all the rights and responsibilities of the biological parent; hence, this is not a decision to make lightly. All the care-, supervision-, medical- and health-related issues fall on the new parent without any caveats.
Considering the significance of an adoption, this matter should not proceed without careful consideration. The change in legal status lasts indefinitely — regardless of whether the relationship between the adults dissolves. If a party adopts a step-child and then breaks up with the biological parent, issues related to child support and custody will still arise.
Because of the complex nature of this concept, you should speak with a legal professional about any questions or concerns you may have before moving forward. If you or someone you know is now or will become a step-parent, and there is a desire to adopt the child, then seek experienced legal counsel.
An Illinois family law attorney can help you with step parent adoption and other issues in this area. Contact the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C.. We work with families in Palatine, Arlington Heights, and throughout Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs.