Legal benefits of adopting your step-child or relative

When you consider adopting your step-child or relative, you have your reasons to do so. You come to the table with a very personal story, often a tragedy, and sometimes a romance.

Whatever your story, by adopting your partner's child, your sister's child, or even your underage sibling, you gain certain legal rights and responsibilities.

You legally become a parent, a role that has many challenges, and specific legal benefits:

1. Security and wellbeing for the child

  • You may make medical decisions for the child
  • You may make financial decisions for the child 

2. A sense of identity and belonging for the child

  • You would be able to establish a common identity with the child through a shared last name if you choose to do so
  • You may make educational, and other child-rearing decisions for the child

3. Sense of permanence

  • You may be able to provide a sense of permanence and love after a loss of a parent that will last long after the child is 18 years old
  • You may be able to step in and provide a sense of permanence after an abandonment that will last long after the child is 18 years old

Every situation is different. Some situations may require solutions other than adoption, such as foster care or kinship care. If you are just starting to research the adoption process, or feel that you want to take that decision, you should contact an attorney to learn what your legal options are.

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