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How do you adopt a stepchild?

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Quick Answer

Adopting a stepchild is a lengthy process involving many steps and a good deal of money. Before adopting a stepchild, learning about the adoption process is necessary to ensure you make a fully informed decision.

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Full Answer

Reading about adoption is an important step in the process. The next step is to conduct research on state laws where the parents and the child will live, because individual state laws govern stepchild adoption. Consulting a lawyer could be a useful option to learn about the nuances of stepchild adoption in a specific state. The next step is to obtain consent from the child and all parents involved, unless a parent has abandoned the child. The child must consent to being adopted if he or she is older than 10 years in some states, while in others the child may have to be up to 14 years old.

The next step is to contact the local court that handles adoptions and request the necessary paperwork, which also varies by state. Filling out the appropriate forms sometimes involves retaining a lawyer for assistance, and some papers may require notarization. A preliminary hearing is then scheduled, in which a judge or magistrate asks questions about the child or even speaks directly to the child if he is old enough. After the hearing, the adoption is finalized if everything went well. As a final step, a new birth certificate can be ordered with the name of the new parent.

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