Second And Step Parent Adoption

The court procedure known as second parent adoption is the only means by which an unmarried, non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship may create a legal and portably binding relationship with their partner’s biological child. If the couple uses an unknown sperm or ova donor, the child born of such an arrangement will only have one legal parent if that couple is unmarried.

Some courts are now recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages and the couple’s desire to have children. In some jurisdictions, a non-biological parent’s name is added to a child’s birth certificate. Some states won’t honor this relationship unless there is a second or step-parent adoption.

What is a Step-Parent Adoption?

A step-parent adoption is the court procedure where a married, non-biological parent can create a legally binding relationship with the biological child of their spouse. Many parents wonder whether their name on the birth certificate of their partner/spouse’s child is enough to create a legal relationship. The answer, unfortunately, is no. In a case from The New York County Surrogate’s Court, The Matter of Sebastian, Judge Kristen Booth Glen explains that the name of a non-biological parent on a birth certificate is an indication of parentage, but does not create that relationship. Cases where parentage claimed by a name on a birth certificate is challenged arise when a biological parent takes the child in question to a state that does not respect the marital status of the child’s parents.

How Long Does the Process Take?

There is no definite answer to this question. However, the petition is usually processed completely in approximately 6 – 9 months. If you hire an attorney who is familiar with this process, the wait time may be reduced, though, much is dependent on the court’s calendar and schedule.

What do My Partner/Spouse and I Need to Prepare for a Step/Second-Parent Adoption?

The second/step-parent adoption process is slightly different in each jurisdiction. At Chianese & Reilly, we will provide you with a checklist of information you’ll need to process the adoption petition. In most second/step-parent adoption proceedings, the information requested includes: the adoptive parent’s  full legal name, address, social security number, employment status and salary. You will also need to prepare a list of all residences you, and your partner if you are not married, have lived in for the last 28 years. You will be fingerprinted and be required to sign affidavits stating that you have never been convicted of a crime (if you have, supporting explanatory documentation is required) and that neither of you have been charged with child abuse. Many courts require letters of reference in support of your adoption petition.

Do Both the Biological Parent and the Adoptive Parent Have to Provide Information?

The answer to this question is usually “yes” if you are not married, and “no” if you are married. Some courts require that both the biological parent and the petitioning adoptive parent both apply to the court. This insures that the court receives all appropriate information regarding the adoption and that the biological parent consents to the process. However, as the courts learn about the specific needs of families, they are adjusting to lessen the burden on biological parents in a step/second parent adoption. This process is continually evolving so it is important to work with a qualified attorney, like Chianese & Reilly,  who can tell you which protocols apply in your jurisdiction.

What if There is a Known Donor?

In situations where there is a known sperm or ova donor or a surrogate mother, the court requires that the donor/surrogate to permanently surrender all legal rights to the child in order for the non-biological partner to adopt. If that donor/surrogate does not consent, the court will initiate a termination procedure. Moreover, a known donor cannot surrender their parental rights to a child unless there is either an agency or an actual person willing to legally adopt that child.

No matter what your marital or co-habitation situation is, children are a great blessing and at Chinese & Reilly Law, we’ll work with you to help achieve your desire to have children and establish your relationship with them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.