Naperville Stepparent Legal Adoption LawyerStepparents often play a crucial role in a child’s life – especially if one of the child’s biological parents is deceased or not heavily involved in the child’s life. While being a stepparent is not always easy, many stepparents come to love their stepchildren as if they were blood relatives.

Many stepparents wonder if it is possible to legally adopt their stepchild. Adoption can have a multitude of benefits for the parents and the child. However, stepparent adoption is only possible in certain situations.

Children May Only Have Two Parents Under Illinois Law

Stepparents often play the role of a biological parent. They take their stepchildren to soccer practice, offer a listening ear when the child has a bad day, prepare meals, and offer invaluable parental guidance. As a stepparent, it can be unnerving to know that, should your marriage end, your right to see your stepchild may be gone in an instant.

Stepparent adoption offers a legal avenue for a stepparent to become a child’s legal parent and gain all of the rights and responsibilities that comes with parentage. However, a child can only have two parents under Illinois law. This means that one of the child’s biological parents may need to sever his or her parental rights to allow the adoption to proceed.

Terminating a Biological Parent’s Rights

If a stepchild has two living biological parents, stepparent adoption cannot proceed until one of those parents gives up his or her parental rights voluntarily, or his or her parental rights are terminated by the court. Sometimes, a biological parent recognizes that he or she cannot meet the child’s needs and willingly agrees that stepparent adoption is in the child’s best interests. In this case, the parent can voluntarily give up his or her parental rights and consent to the adoption.

If a parent does not voluntarily give up his or her rights, the only other option is to ask the court to terminate the parent’s rights. Illinois law does not take termination of parental rights lightly and there must be substantial evidence of abandonment, neglect, cruelty, or lack of concern for child’s welfare for a court to terminate a biological parent’s rights. If the court finds that the biological parent is “unfit” and there is a stepparent willing and able to take on the role of parenthood, the adoption process can continue. Usually, a guardian ad litem is assigned to the case to investigate the circumstances of the proposed adoption and ensue that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. If the child is 14 years old or older, the child will also need to consent to the adoption. The stepparent seeking adoption will also be subject to a criminal background check.  If all of these requirements are satisfied, the stepparent will be able to adopt their stepchild and become the child’s legal parent.

Contact a DuPage County Adoption Lawyer

If you are interested in adopting you stepchild, contact our Naperville adoption attorneys for help. Call 630-364-4046 for a free, confidential consultation at Goostree Law Group.


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