There are many reasons why stepparents pursue adoption. You already play an important role in your stepchildren's lives. By formally adopting them, you can claim all the rights and responsibilities that go along with legal parenthood.
However, the stepparent adoption process in Michigan isn't always easy. The law doesn't allow children to have more than two legal parents. To become an adoptive parent, you must first either obtain the other parent's consent to the adoption or ask the court to terminate their parental rights. Children ages 14 and older must also give their consent.
What if the other parent doesn't agree to the adoption?
In a contested case, the parties requesting the adoption must show that the other parent failed to provide child support or remain in contact with the children (despite having opportunities to do so) for at least two years.
What if you can't find the biological parent?
Fortunately, you may still be able to proceed with the adoption, but you'll have to make reasonable efforts to locate and notify the parent.
How long does the process take?
The timing depends on your circumstances. After all the correct paperwork and documentation have been filed, the court will conduct an investigation, which could take up to three months. There may also be a six-month waiting period before the adoption can be finalized, although the court can potentially shorten this time frame.
Changes to these procedures may soon be taking affect. A new law awaiting the governor's signature would streamline and simplify the process for stepparent adoptions.