For a relative or stepparent adoption, and really for any adoption, adoption is a legal process to create the legally recognized relationship of parent to child. While the process to adopt a relative or stepchild is usually more streamlined than a domestic infant adoption process, it is still a legal proceeding to transfer parental rights and responsibilities from one parent to another person. We have the expertise to provide a seamless and affordable adoption process for every family.
What is Relative or Stepparent Adoption?
A relative adoption is the adoption of a child by his or her grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, great-aunt, great-uncle, cousin, or sibling.
A stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by his or her parent’s spouse to create a legal parent-child relationship. This may also include adoptions of children conceived using donor sperm, eggs, or embryos.
How Does Relative and Stepparent Adoption Work?
Before a grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or stepparent can adopt a minor relative or stepchild, that child must be “free for adoption,” satisfied through one of the following:
- Parent(s) of the child gives written consent to the adoption, or
- The child’s parent(s)’ parental rights are terminated.
After the child is legally free for adoption, then a Petition to Adopt may be filed. While adoption certification is not required of the adopting relative(s), the grandparent, great grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or stepparent (and all other adults in the home) are required to provide state and federal criminal records check (fingerprinting) and a Department of Child Safety central registry check (child abuse clearance) as part of their Petition to the Court.
Provided there are no concerns on the part of the Court based on the file, then the case will proceed to a finalization hearing.
What are the Benefits of Adopting a Relative or Stepchild?
There are many reasons a stepparent or relative may consider adopting his or her stepchild or grandchild. Establishing a legal relationship between the child and the stepparent or relative entitles the child to receive inheritance and insurance benefits and simplifies parental tasks, such as registering the child for school or taking him or her to doctor’s appointments. Stepparent and relative adoption also provides a sense of belonging and stability for everyone in the family.
Resources for Stepfamilies
Families built through stepparent and relative adoption enjoy many benefits and face unique challenges.
National Stepfamily Resource Center – a clearinghouse of information, linking family science research on stepfamilies and best practices in work with couples and children in stepfamilies.
Resources for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children
Additional resources are available for families touched by relative adoption. If you are raising your grandchild, great-grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, or sibling, the following resources can provide valuable information and support:
KARE Center – Offering resources for foster, adoptive and kinship parents through the Case Family Programs and Arizona Children’s Association.
The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center – national legal resource in support of grandfamilies within and outside the child welfare system.