At Thomas M. Gurewitz, Attorney At Law, in Illinois, we understand that many stepparents form a strong parent-child bond with their stepchildren and wish to become the legal parent. If you believe that stepparent adoption is in the best interests of your spouse’s child, here are some factors you should consider first.
The child’s mother or father must give up parental rights or have those rights terminated before you can adopt the child. When a child loses contact with a parent, he or she is likely to lose the ties to that parent’s family, as well. You may be able to allay that emotional loss by committing to help your stepchild maintain those family bonds.
Losing the legal connection with a parent can also lead to the child no longer having access to the financial support of that parent, which may include government benefits as well as child support. On the other hand, by legally becoming your child, your spouse’s son or daughter gains financial support, government benefits, inheritance rights and new ties to your family.
An adoption may take place if the biological parent is unfit and it is in the best interests of the child. The Illinois statutes state that grounds for termination of parental rights arise due to the following:
- Abandonment or desertion lasting at least three months
- Abuse, neglect or misconduct toward the child
- Failure to provide a safe environment for the child
- Conviction of a crime such as murder, sexual assault, battery or aggravated battery of any child
- Conviction of three or more felonies
- Active addiction to alcohol or drugs for the 12 months preceding the unfitness proceeding
More information about stepparent adoptions and the adoption process is available on our webpage.