Step-Parent Adoption

A stepparent adoption is a type of independent adoption where a stepparent adopts the child of their spouse, and the spouse maintains his/her legal rights. Whether you’ve recently joined a family and you’d like to make your new commitment permanent by legally adopting your stepchild, or you’ve been raising your stepchild for years and you’d like to formalize the important parental bond that you share, we can help you complete this type of adoption. 

Understanding Consent to an adoption, Sole Custody issues with adoption and Custody vs Parental Rights can be tricky.  We've highlighted some questions about these issues. 

Can I surprise my step-parent with an adoption of me? 

Do I have to notify my child's biological parent if he/she is not on the birth certificate or has never been involved?

To learn more about stepparent adoption in Virginia, Maryland or Washington, D.C., contact us now or read below for more information about this process.

The Difference Between Stepparent, Second Parent and Adult Adoptions

Which type of adoption do you require in your situation? If…

  • Your stepchild is 18 years or older, you’ll require an adult adoption.
  • You aren’t legally married to your partner, but wish to adopt their child so that you can both be that child’s legal parents, then you’ll require a second parent adoption.
  • You’re married and you wish to adopt your spouse’s child, then you’ll require a stepparent adoption.

The legal steps of each type of adoption vary. If you’re unsure of which type of adoption is appropriate in your individual situation, contact us now. We will be able to help guide you to the adoption process that’s right for your family.

Why People Choose to Adopt Their Stepchild

If you’re already acting as this child’s parent in every way, formalizing your relationship with a step parent adoption may seem unnecessary. But there are several benefits that adopting a stepchild in Maryland, Virginia or D.C. can offer, including:

  • The ability for you all to share the same last name, if desired.
  • They will be able to inherit from you.
  • They can benefit from your Social Security and insurance.
  • You can make important medical decisions for one another and access medical records in the event of an emergency.
  • You’ll have equal legal rights to your child as your spouse.
  • It can be an important emotional representation of the love that you have for your stepchild.

There are many reasons why a person may or may not choose to complete a stepparent adoption in MD, VA or DC. We can help you determine the right course of action for your family.

The Process of Adopting a Stepchild in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

While some of the laws of adopting a stepchild will vary between the states, the general steps of the process remain similar:

  • You’ll first file an adoption petition with the court.
  • You’ll need to obtain consent from the child’s noncustodial biological parent, or terminate their parental rights.
  • File the required paperwork with the court.
  • Attend the finalization hearing, where the judge will grant you official parental rights for your child.
  • File for a new birth certificate for the child (you can also file for a last name change, if desired), listing you as their parent.

We will be there to walk you through each step of the step-parent adoption process to ensure that everything is completed correctly and that you’re always fully informed. If you have any questions about the process of adopting a stepchild within your state, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

How We Compassionately Navigate Consent for Stepparent Adoptions

Stepparent adoptions can be sensitive, especially if the other biological/legal parent is still alive and involved in your child’s life. With a step parent adoption, because the biological/legal parent’s parental rights would be terminated, they must be notified and approve of the stepparent’s intent to adopt.

If the biological/legal parent cannot be found or refuses to consent, it is still possible for a court to grant the adoption so long as the biological/legal parent is properly notified of the adoption. For example, in a stepparent adoption without the bio father’s consent, the biological father must be notified of the adoption and provided an opportunity to object. If he does not object, the adoption will be granted if it is in the best interest of the child. If a legal parent objects to the adoption, then the outcome is specific to each case. Jennifer has handled dozens of step-parent adoptions in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, including ones contested by the legal parent.

Jennifer and Catelyn represent the stepparents, birth parents or children (if older than 10 years of age in Maryland or 14 years of age in Virginia and the District of Columbia) in stepparent adoptions. They have each handled cases where the biological parent refuses to participate in the case or objects (making it a contested stepparent adoption), as well as consensual adoption cases.

Contact us now to learn how to adopt a stepchild in the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia, and make your important parent-child relationship legally official.

Whose Consent is Needed for a Stepparent Adoption?

Stepparent adoptions have significant emotional value for everyone involved, as well as legal benefits. But, if you’re considering a stepparent adoption, you may have some questions about moving forward.


If I Have Sole Custody, Can My New Spouse Adopt My Child?

If you've married someone who is not the biological parent of your child, your new spouse can legally adopt your child.  


What is the Difference Between Custody and Parental Rights?

Custody and parental rights are two different things. And, they legally affect you and your child in different ways.  


Step Parent Adoption

"Jennifer represented my step-dad to legally adopt me.  Jennifer informed me of all details for the adoption procedures and made certain that it was completely my choice.  I felt very good that she was our lawyer.  I was glad she told us in advance to bring a camera to take pictures with the judge.  She was very personal and it was a happy day for me.  I now have the same last name as my family with many thanks to Jennifer."  -Vivi 

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax