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Can your child ask their stepparent to adopt them?

It is possible that while scrolling through social media, you have found videos of stepchildren asking their stepparents to adopt them. If you haven’t, a quick search on YouTube for "surprise stepparent adoption" will produce a few tears.

These heartwarming videos typically end with a stepparent opening a present with adoption papers inside. There is good reason for this, as the gesture is likely intended to be permanent and legal, not just symbolic. If a child wants to ask their stepparent to adopt them, it is important to understand how this is done.

Who can adopt and be adopted

In Pennsylvania, anyone can be an adopting parent and anyone can be adopted, regardless of their age. Therefore, even an adult child can be an adoptee. Your child could be in their 30s and decide they want the paperwork to reflect who they feel is their parent.

Any minor child can also be an adoptee, but if they are over 12 years old, their consent is required. You can process adoption paperwork for your child before they are 12, but if your child wants to be the one to ask it may be more meaningful to wait until they are of the age where their consent is required. 

The consent of the child’s other biological parent is also required, which may be an uphill battle if your ex is unwilling to terminate their parental rights. In this case, you can petition the court with the help of legal counsel to terminate the other parent’s rights, but there must be sufficient evidence to convince a court that termination is both necessary and appropriate.

A simple process

If all parties agree, the process can be simple as there are only a few steps to make the adoption successful. If your child has expressed interest in asking their stepparent to adopt them, you can help them by working with an adoption attorney who can help with terminating parental rights and preparing the paperwork to be presented to the stepparent.

The decision to ask a stepparent to adopt a child is one that will likely be emotional for all parties involved. With the right process, it can end in a memory your family will cherish for the rest of their lives, whether you share it on social media or not.

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