Maryland stepparents who want to adopt their stepchildren must obtain the consent of both biological parents of the children. In other words, the stepparent needs to gain consent from his or her spouse and the children’s other parent. This consent could be difficult to obtain because the other parent will essentially be giving up his or her parental rights when allowing the stepparent to adopt.
In some cases where the other parent objects to the stepparent adoption, all may not be lost. Here are a few legal perspectives for stepparents to terminate the birth parent’s parental rights in these situations.
Terminating a birth parent’s parental rights for a stepparent adoption
By terminating the birth parent’s parental rights, a stepparent and his or her spouse eliminate the consent required for a stepparent adoption to occur. Here are three circumstances that could warrant such a termination:
The other birth parent is not the biological father – If the birth parent is male, questions could arise pertaining to his or her status as the biological parent. Proving that the man in question is not the father via a DNA test could be an effective way to strip him of parental rights — if he was not married to the mother at the time of the birth.
The other birth parent abandoned the child – In cases of abandonment, the stepparent may be able to show that the other birth parent never showed any interest in the child’s life and never contributed financially to his or her care. Since it is for precisely this reason that many stepparents wish to adopt their stepchildren, this is the most common strategy that stepparents use to terminate the other parent’s parental rights.
The other birth parent is an unfit parent – There are many ways that the other birth parent could be unfit as a parent. Any of the following, for example, could result in the termination of parental rights:
- A long-term jail sentence or felony conviction
- An incapacitating psychological or mental problem
- A drug or alcohol addiction
- A history of physically, sexually or emotionally abusive behavior toward the child or other family members
Do you want to adopt your stepchild?
Adopting your stepchild and becoming his or her legal parent can be rewarding. Take the time to review all of your adoption options and the legal strategies to help you achieve your goal and don’t give up until you’ve exhausted all of your options.