The love of a parent is critical in the proper development of a child. Sometimes, that parental love is strongest with non-biological parents. For stepparents looking to adopt their spouses' children, it is important to be familiar with all aspects of the process. Particularly in Minnesota, the stepparent adoption process can fall into three main parts:
1. Termination of biological parent rights
Through the adoption process, a parent takes responsibility for a child, and as such, the parent gains parental rights. To accomplish this, a parent with parental rights must give them up in one form or another. Particularly in the case of a stepparent adoption, the non-spousal parent must give up parental rights, or the court must terminate them. In most cases, the parent will give up rights voluntarily. If not, the petitioning parents must prove a statutory basis upon which the court should terminate the parental rights of the other party.
There are several documents that the applicant must complete and submit to the appropriate court, depending on the situation. If the adoption is not contested and the adopting party meets all of the requirements in accordance with the law, then no additional paperwork is needed. However, in cases where certain stipulations are not met, such as the child living with the stepparent for the required amount of time, additional paperwork may be necessary. Working with a knowledgeable professional can aid in making sure that all of the requirements are met and that the proper paperwork is submitted from the beginning.
3. Court approval
Once the stepparent submits all of the proper paperwork, the court approval process begins. The court will review and substantiate the information in the paperwork, as well as complete a minimal background check. After that, the parties go to a hearing where a judge asks the parents and child a few questions about the adoption. Should everything be in order, the judge makes the final adoption decision.
Though the process can be thought of in three parts, adoption is an in-depth procedure. However, the benefits of adoption for the family as a whole make it worth it.