Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler, P.C.

When can you adopt your stepchildren?

Out of tragedy can come something good. After a divorce or death of a spouse, families may have a second chance at happiness. You may have found that happiness with someone else and gotten married.

When that person has children, it may invite another wonderful opportunity: the chance to adopt them as your own. However, no matter how much you and the children have grown close together, it is not always an option. Under what circumstances can you adopt your stepchildren in Illinois?

Parental death

The easiest way to make your stepchildren legally yours is when their other biological parent is deceased. You will have to show the person's certificate of death as proof. Other requirements for adoption still apply.

Parental consent

When the parent is alive, you will have to obtain his or her consent first, as stepparent adoption means that the biological parent will lose all rights to the children. Some people will cooperate with this step, making the process go faster.

Unfit parent

If the other parent does not offer consent, the only way to fight for the adoption is to show that the person is harmful or neglectful to the children, making it in their best interest to terminate parental rights in your favor. Examples of ways you can prove the biological parent should lose rights is if he or she is abusive, has committed heinous crimes, has had no communication with the kids or has not provided financial support.

No parent

If there is no other parent in the picture, whether because the person's identity is unknown or the person willingly left the children long ago, the court can terminate parental rights. However, you may still have to put in the effort to give the person notice.

Someone may step forward claiming to be the father. If the person is not on the birth certificates and did not establish paternity, the case can still become complicated, especially if the person was not aware of having children and wants to be a part of their lives.

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