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Can I adopt my stepchild in North Carolina?

The definition of a normal family has changed a lot over the last several decades. Blended families have now become one of the norms, encompassing a variety of stepparent and stepchildren arrangements. For some blended families in which one of the biological parents is permanently absent, adopting the stepchildren is the next logical step toward creating a complete family unit in every way.

Stepparents may want to adopt the children of their spouse for many reasons. Perhaps they want to show how much they love these children or how they already consider themselves a full parent. By legally adopting stepchildren, stepparents express their desire to participate in their lives and take responsibility for their well-being.

Under North Carolina General Statute ยง 48-4-101, it is certainly possible to adopt your stepchild. Here is how the process typically works.

-- The stepparent's spouse must have physical and legal child custody-- The child must live with the biological parent and the stepparent for at least six months prior to filing the adoption petition.-- The noncustodial parent's parental rights must be waived or otherwise forfeited.

As with all legal actions, the stepparent and his or her spouse should carefully consider any possible consequences of the adoption, including:

-- The child's relationship with the other biological parent will be terminated.-- The child will lose any inheritance rights to the other biological parent's estate.-- The noncustodial parent will not be liable for child support after the date of the adoption.

Remember, North Carolina adoptions are a legally binding process. For this reason, both the stepparent and his or her spouse could benefit from legal advice from a North Carolina family law attorney.

Source: North Carolina General Assembly, "Adoption of a Minor Stepchild by Stepparent," accessed Aug. 11, 2015

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