Certainly, one of the most rewarding things that our legal team is a part of are step-parent adoptions. It’s an opportunity for us to really help families blend together and create legal relationships where there is a desire to have them.
We’ve handled many step-parent adoptions throughout the Twin Cities in Greater Minnesota and the process is really a four-stage process.
The first stage in all of this is to receive the termination of parental rights consent form from the biological father. That can pose the most difficulty and quite often we need to actually file an action in district court to try to terminate the father’s parental rights if he’s unwilling to sign off on that document. If he is willing to sign, there is a 14-day cooling off period so that for a period of two weeks the document is legally unenforceable, but thereafter that termination is binding and legally enforceable.
The second stage of a step-parent adoption involves the drafting of the petition for the step-parent adoption and we put together the basic facts and outline those in various forms of paperwork that get filed with the court.
The third phase involves the county’s own workup as part of the step-parent adoption. A step-parent adoption is not nearly as complex as a more traditional adoption in the sense that the parties are not working at an arms length. It’s actually a step-parent or someone who’s already married to the biological mother of a child or father in some circumstances.
And so the scrutiny that is afforded by the County is rather limited, but there is some scrutiny, and that scrutiny varies from County to County. Some counties want to have a criminal background check, others want to do a home study. But throughout the course of that third phase, the County will be heavily involved in determining whether the adoption should move forward.
And then finally, the most exciting part is the court appearance. Going to court, meeting with the judge and just outlining the basic facts for the court in testimony, children are typically invited to come along. It’s usually a very enjoyable experience where photographs are taken, and it’s a wonderful thing to remember as you recreate your family.