As a stepparent who would like to adopt your stepchild, it can be a complicated situation. If the child’s two biological parents don’t agree, then there may be little you can do to help an adoption move forward.

However, if you can show that the biological father or mother has relinquished their parental rights or has not been present in the child’s life for a long period of time, then it is possible to seek the adoption of your stepchild.

Why would you want to adopt a stepchild?

This usually comes down to preference, but there are a number of reasons for it. While you do have some rights in rearing a child when you marry their parents, you don’t get all the same rights. If you and the child’s parent divorce or separate, you also won’t necessarily have a right to visitation or custody.

Adopting gives you parental rights that cannot be taken away so easily. You’ll assume the financial and legal responsibilities of taking care of that child for the future. Keep in mind that taking on these responsibilities will result in the biological father or mother giving up parental rights, in most cases, which will also relieve the noncustodial parent of responsibilities such as child support.

Before you choose to adopt your stepchild, it’s very important that you consider all angles. You should make sure you’re prepared to take on this responsibility in the long term, remembering that even a divorce won’t relieve you of the responsibility of caring for this child. Our site has more on what to consider about adoption.