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Stepparents and Adoption

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Is it Possible for Children to be adopted by the Spouse of One Birth Parent?

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Family Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

It is possible and very frequently done.

In the 1990s, there are approximately 120,000 adoptions of children each year. This number has remained fairly constant in the 1990s, and is still relatively proportionate to population size in the U.S. (Flango and Flango, 1994)

Of adoptions in 1992, the plurality (53,525, or 42%) were either kinship or stepparent adoptions. (Flango and Flango, 1994).

Normally, the stepparent adopting the child of one of the birth parents has been with the birth parent and the child for an extended period of time.  They have taken over the roll of the parent with whom the child was born.  This primarily occurs through the consent (acquiesence) of the birth parent that is no longer in the picture. 

However, where a parent is no longer involved with the child for six (6) months or longer, the natural parent and stepparent may petition for termination of the other's parental rights and an adoption.  This may occur without the consent of the non-involved birth parent.

Consent of the birth parent that is no longer involved is typically how a case of stepparent adoption arrives at an attorney's office.

Except as otherwise provided, consent to an adoption is required of the following:

  • (1) the adoptee, if over 12 years of age;
  • (2) the spouse of the adopting parent, unless he or she joins in the adoption petition;
  • (3) the parents or surviving parent of an adoptee who has not reached the age of 18 years;
  • (4) the guardian of an incapacitated adoptee; and
  • (5) the guardian of the person of an adoptee under the age of 18 years, if any there be, or of the person or persons having the custody of the adoptee, if any such person can be found, whenever the adoptee has no parent whose consent is required.

Some counties will require that the stepparent obtain a copy of their certified PA Criminal Record from the PA State Police.  This is because there are new "Risk Factors" that the courts must now be assured do not exist for the child.  Here's the link to order your record.

If you have questions regarding stepparent adoption, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC  at the toll free number above or email us today.

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