Adoption Frequently Asked Question #12
Last Reviewed: June 25, 2015
This is a historical document. Use for research and reference purposes only.
My new spouse wants to adopt my child. How do we do this?
Stepparent adoptions are the most common type of adoption. In these adoptions, the stepparent petitions the court to assume financial and legal responsibility for his/her spouse's child/children and to sever the parental rights and responsibilities (including child support) of the non-custodial parent. Stepparent adoptions, like all adoptions in the United States, are governed by State laws and regulations. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, provides further information online via its factsheet, Stepparent Adoptions, at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/f_step.cfm.
Many States have a streamlined adoption process for stepparents whereby the judge hearing the adoption petition has the ability to dispense with the requirement for an adoption home study. Some States, however, will not approve a stepparent adoption unless the custodial parent has been married to the stepparent for 1 year or longer. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides summaries of some aspects of State adoption laws and other relevant legal information on its website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/adoption/. In addition, the Cornell University Law School online Legal Information Institute has a page relating to legal issues in adoption at http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/adoption.