Step Parent Adoptions

What Are They? What About The Other Parent? What About Costs? What About Time Frames? Cautions

     I am really proud of the Step Parent Adoption practice that I have developed.  I do Step Parent Adoptions all over Oregon and Washington and have the entire process down to an art.  I find that the knowledge that I have developed and the number of Step Parent Adoptions that I do allows me to provide clients a very affordable service.  I also am one of the few attorneys that I know of who is not afraid to take the complicated or difficult cases.  Almost every attorney that does divorces/custody or other "family law" will say that they do step parent adoptions and they have probably done a few.  Wouldn't you be more comfortable with someone who has done hundreds and hundreds?

What Are They?

     Step Parent Adoptions are a very common type of adoption.  They involve taking a blended family and naming Mom and Dad as "real parents" in the eyes of the law.  I refer to Step Parent Adoptions as helping the law to recognize the family that you have already built.   After the adoption the Step Parent has all the rights and responsibilities as if the child had been born to them.  

     The usual case is where Mom or Dad has custody of the child (or children),  remarries,  and Mom or Dad's new spouse would like to be seen as the "legal" Mom or Dad.  A key element in Step Parent Adoptions is that at least one biological (or legal) parent retain their rights.

     These adoptions require the filing of a Petition (a request to the Court asking it to do something) and other related paperwork including but not limited to a Criminal History Check for the "new" Mom or Dad, letters to the state to inform them of the adoption, requests for a new or amended birth certificate, etc.  A home study is generally not required in Oregon!  In Washington a fairly basic, straight forward homestudy is required and I can help you chose an Adoption Service Provider to do that homestudy reasonably.

    Many people desire to do a Step Parent Adoption because they are worried (with good reason) what might happen to the child (or children) if the biological parent were to die or become incompetent.  Children in this situation might be forced back with the formerly absent biological parent, without even asking what is in the best interest of the child.  A Step Parent in this situation needs immediate and knowledgeable help!

     What About The "Other" Parent?

     In a Step Parent Adoption, the parental rights of the original parent (we call them "bio-parents" or "birthparents") are ultimately terminated. This also terminates their responsibility to pay child support, visit the child, etc. 

     If the bio-parent voluntarily agrees to sign a Waiver and Consent to Adoption, we call this an Uncontested Adoption.  

    If the bio-parent has had no meaningful (a legal term, not necessarily as you or I would think about it) communication or support to the child for more than a year without good cause, we call this an Abandonment and the bio-parent does not have to sign Waiver - but we will have to file additional papers and possibly go to court.  

     It is important to know that regardless of what your relationship is with the bio-parent or whether you have an Uncontested or Contested Adoption, we can still go forward with the adoption to build your family.   If there is a Contested Adoption, however, there are more steps to go through and the Court will have the ultimate decision on whether or not to terminate the bio-parent's rights and grant the adoption.  

What About Costs?

     This is a question everyone has and there is not one answer that fits all situations.  I am happy to talk with you about your situation and try to give you an idea of what it might cost.  GENERALLY (and this is a real big generality) I charge a base rate of $1095.00 for an Uncontested Step Parent Adoption where you do the work to get the Consent signed.  Any work necessary related to obtaining consent, proving Abandonment, or dealing with child support matters is performed on an hourly basis.  Filing Fees and expenses such has the criminal records check and the fees to obtain a new amended birth certificate vary and are not included in the base rate.

     The facts and circumstances surrounding a Contested Adoption vary widely and I really cannot even provide you with a general idea of costs until I understand your particular situation.  I am happy to meet with you and discuss your situation for a reasonable consultation fee that, if you choose to go ahead with the adoption, will be applied towards your bill.  

    Multiple children adopted at the same time and other differing factors can make a big difference.  Please talk to me and we can work something out.

What About Time Frames?

      Or, "How Long Will It Take?"  After we file your Petition, we send out for your Criminal History check and request the state to issue a waiver letter waiving a home study and any other  involvement at the state level.  Waiting for these items to come back from the state takes up the majority of the time; it could be 6-12 weeks or longer.  Unfortunately the state processes these requests on a first come, first serve basis and this is not a process that we can often influence significantly.  Because of this, the overall time for completing an adoption from start to finish also varies widely; from 2 to 4 months.  

Cautions

      If you are thinking about a Step Parent Adoption please talk to me before talking to the child's other parent.  I can help you with what to say and when to say it.  I am finding that all too often well meaning people (including other attorneys) are ruining the opportunity to complete a Step Parent Adoption by saying the wrong things at the wrong times.   

     If you have any questions or would like to discuss your adoption matters,
 please give me a call.

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