Often times in blended families, a step-parent may have a very active role in a child’s life. However, a step-parent, is still not the legal guardian of a minor and is restricted from making certain decisions for or regarding the child that a parent is entitled to make.
A related adoption is where the person who wants to adopt the child is related to the child, and this includes step-parents. If the person who wants to request an adoption is viewed as “a reputable person of legal age” and “under no legal disability,” they technically meet the basis for filing for adoption.
Related adoptions are excused from having to undergo a criminal background check but a guardian ad litem (an attorney who represents the minor child) will still need to be appointed, run an investigation and present a report to the Judge.
If the child’s legal parent(s) agrees to relinquish their parental rights, they must appropriately consent on the specific court form (there are six different consents). If the child is at least 14 years old, they must also consent to the adoption as well.
If the child’s legal parent(s) won’t consent to adoption, it will most likely be a lengthy battle and the parent whose rights you are trying to take away will have to be proven by clear and convincing evidence that they are an unfit parent.
Because the stakes are so high in an adoption case as someone is relinquishing or losing their fundamental right to be a parent, it is important that both parties are aware of their rights and the respective laws.