Whether you’re a birth parent or a stepparent, adoption is a big decision. Before you begin, you should understand the requirements, whom you need to talk to and what to expect along the way and afterward.
The process for adopting a stepchild or family member is less formal and rigorous compared to nonrelative adoptions, but it’s not always easy. The process can bring up strong emotions, especially if the child’s other biological parent is involved or there are challenging family dynamics.
Talking to the Whole Family
Adoption isn’t a one-person decision. Unless an agency has full custody, you must receive consent from the child’s mother and father. Children who are 14 or older must consent to the adoption as well. It’s a good idea to talk to younger kids and half-siblings about the process. Stepparent adoptions can help children feel secure and closer to their new family, so you want to start on the right foot.
Requirements for Adopting a Stepchild
- The adoptee must be a minor child under 19.
- You must be healthy enough to meet the child’s parental needs.
- You can begin adoption after three years of marriage to the stepchild’s birth parent.
- Petitioners who have lived with the child for a year may qualify for exemptions.
- You or your partner must be a U.S. citizen.
Submitting Your Adoption Petition to the Court
- You must submit an adoption petition and a copy of the child’s birth certificate to the Jefferson County Probate Court in Birmingham.
- Next, you need to prove that the birth parents consent to the adoption. If a parent is absent or unresponsive, you might be able to show that this person has given their implied consent.
- You will attend the initial hearing at the probate court and submit documents supporting the adoption.
- If your petition is successful, the judge will issue a final decree formalizing the adoption to make you the child’s legal parent.
Adoption is an important, complex decision. Sit down with the attorneys at Allums Welsch, PC in Bessemer to see if it’s right for your family. Your attorney can explain Alabama’s adoption laws and help you prepare and present your petition. We offer free initial consultations in a friendly, supportive environment. Our adoption attorneys have served residents of greater Birmingham since 2001.