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Stepparent Adoption

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
For stepmoms: If something happened to your stepchild's mom, would you adopt your stepchild?

For moms: If something happened to your children's dad, would you want your husband/partner to adopt them? Or has your husband/partner already adopted your children? For that matter: If something happened to you, would you be OK if your children were adopted by their stepmom? Does it make a difference if you died knowing who that stepmother would be? (I know that's a purely academic question, but just for the sake of argument.)

Sorry for the sometimes morbid topic. This is a question from the lawyer in me, not because of anything specific in my life. Although I would consider adopting SD in the very unlikely, and very sad, event her mother were to pass away. I'd have to talk to professionals, both legal and mental health, to determine whether this would be in SD's best interest (and of course discuss it with my partner and with SD, as appropriate for her age).

This also comes out of the "you can't possibly love a stepchild like your own" idea that's often repeated (I have no input, either way, as I don't have "my own" yet)...what happens when a stepchild is adopted? Does a switch suddenly flip to "my own," or is there always a sense of "other" or is there something in between? (If that makes sense.)
post #2 of 21
My DSD's are older, (8 and almost 11), so I would leave that up to them.. but I would definitely be willing to.

ETA: I am friends with the girls' mom, so it would be hard on ALL of us if something happened to her. I would offer them as much comfort as I could but would not expect them to want me to replace her as their mom. I could see it being different if they were very young. They are old enough that they would always remember her, and I wouldn't want it any other way. So yes, if they wanted, I would legally adopt them. But it wouldn't ever be something I would ask of them if it made them uncomfortable in any way.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassifrass View Post
My DSD's are older, (8 and almost 11), so I would leave that up to them.. but I would definitely be willing to.

ETA: I am friends with the girls' mom, so it would be hard on ALL of us if something happened to her. I would offer them as much comfort as I could but would not expect them to want me to replace her as their mom. I could see it being different if they were very young. They are old enough that they would always remember her, and I wouldn't want it any other way. So yes, if they wanted, I would legally adopt them. But it wouldn't ever be something I would ask of them if it made them uncomfortable in any way.
I'm friendly with SD's mom, and I know SD and my partner both would be crushed if she died.

I suppose the lawyer in me is looking at this more in terms of protection for SD, and not in terms of "becoming mom." Yes, legally that's what I'd be, but I'd never try to replace her mom...she'd still probably call me by my first name. (She's 5 -- old enough to remember mom but not really old enough to understand adoption in this scenario...although even if something happened today, I wouldn't just swoop in and initiate an adoption. There needs to be time. So she might be old enough to understand and have a say.) I guess that's something to remember...even if adoption makes sense legally/financially, it may not be the right thing to do emotionally. I think in many states children can legally veto an adoption at a certain age.
post #4 of 21
If my step-sons mom died would I adopt him ..

In a heart beat ,, yes ,, not because I want to replace her but because I love him like a son and want to give him a sense of stability , family and home ..

Think about it, what if something were to then happen to my husband and I had'nt adopted my step-son then he would go to next of kin, grand parents or other family members ..
I would have no legal rights to be his parent , I would have to fight really hard for visitation for myself and the children my husband and I have..
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
For stepmoms: If something happened to your stepchild's mom, would you adopt your stepchild?
In a heartbeat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
Or has your husband/partner already adopted your children?
My Hubby will be adopting my son in about a year when we have the money. My son's Biological Father has already agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
If something happened to you, would you be OK if your children were adopted by their stepmom? Does it make a difference if you died knowing who that stepmother would be?
Okay, lets get really hypothetical- let's say my Hubby's already adopted my son and then I get run over by a truck. I would trust my Hubby to, if he chose to remarry, to marry a woman who loves my son as much as I love my stepdaughter. I wouldn't want to be forgotten as a Mother or as a Wife, but neither would I want my son or my Hubby to be alone. I do wonder what my stepdaughter would think of having a second Stepmother, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by azfiresmbm View Post
Think about it, what if something were to then happen to my husband and I had'nt adopted my step-son then he would go to next of kin, grand parents or other family members ..
I would have no legal rights to be his parent , I would have to fight really hard for visitation for myself and the children my husband and I have..
Exactly.
post #6 of 21
I would definitely adopt dss if he wanted.

I've already told dh that if anything happens to me, he and my ex have to take care of dd together. Neither of them could do it alone. He agreed.

My ex has not remarried, but I guess if his dp wanted to adopt dd, I would be happy that dd is so loved. And I'm dead in this scenario, right? So, I have to be OK with whatever. I guess I should make it clear to my ex that I want dh to be a part of dd's life if I'm gone and her step-mom wanted to adopt her.

If dd's dad died, I would want dh to adopt her for many reasons. I'm not sure what she would want, though, it would have to be partly her decision.

Dh and I have not talked about what we'd do with ds2 (ours) if something happened to us. Actually, dss and dd talked about it, and they all want to stay together. I thought that was sweet.
post #7 of 21
I'm not sure. My dss are older (8 and 11). If something happened to dh, then I would be their guardian, and I feel like that's a lot for me to handle. I also know that their maternal grandparents would want to raise them, and I'm ok with that.
post #8 of 21
My ds bio dad has never been involved. He met him twice as a very young baby but has never had anything more to do with him. My dh and I met when ds was almost 6 and married a year later. My ds has called my dh "Dad" since shortly after our marriage (his choice). We had always intended on my dh adopting my ds, but wanted to wait until he was old enough to really understand it. And then there were some legalities involved (i.e., we have no idea where bio dad may be and bio dad's parents were planning on contesting it) so it got put off a bit (way too long, he's 12 now). However, I recently went through two life threatening medical situations and we are now fast tracking the adoption to legally protect our son from his bio dad.

Obviously, our situation is a bit different than many here but I thought I'd give my two cents.
post #9 of 21
That is a really hard question. I think if ex passed away I would not have DH adopt DS unless DS asked. IMO, it would feel like replacing his father. My DH would still love and care for DS the same way he always has but we're big on not stepping on his father's toes. I would be hurt if DS called someone else "mom" because I feel that is a title only I should have - dead or alive I will always be his mother.
post #10 of 21
DSD's mother is not dead and we're already fighting to terminate her rights so that I can adopt her. I'm sure most of you won't agree with what we're doing but we have our reasons. I've posted extensively in the past about trying to include DSD's mom in her/our lives. We've tried everything and she's just not interested. Our last attempt was in August and she ended up breaking all of the commitments she made and moved out of the state without even telling us. That was the breaking point.

I've wanted to adopt DSD for a longggg time though. I've also wanted to respect and encourage the relationship between DSD and her mother. It's just not worked out well. We begin to think about the "what if" and decided to go forward with this. First of all..I love her. I cherish her. She is my life. Second, if something were to happen to DH I would have no rights and I'd hate to be apart from DSD. She knows me as her mom. It would hurt her too. Plus, her mother is not in a good place and would not be able to provide for her.

We're currently working on wills and the like. Our plan is for us to push for a step parent adoption. If that does not work out DH will state clearly in his will what he wants for DSD. As far as life insurance etc. that would go into an account that I would have control of. So even in the case that DSD was sent to live with her mom I would still provide for her to make sure she has what she needs. I would fight for custody as well. My dad ( a lawyer) thinks I'd have a good chance because of our situation (she's been with me for almost 5 years and has seen her mother a handful of times). IF both DH and I were to die after I've adopted her then she would go to my sister and all of our insurance, property, etc. would go to my sister as well. If we both passed away before I was able to adopt her my parents have told me they would do whatever they could to secure custody of DSD. I guess you could say we mean business lol.

Sorry if this is long winded and controversial. Just my .02 cents.
post #11 of 21
My DF is adopting my son. My x husband decided over the summer to give up his parental rights, he hadn't seen our son in over 2 years. When I told my DF that he would be able to adopt, he got so emotional that he was sobbing on the phone and it took several minutes to compose himself. THAT'S love.

He loves my (soon to officially be OUR) son more than DS's bio-Dad is capable of. He does not have any biological children of his own, and we are not sure if we will have any together. So DS may be his one and only child, ever.
post #12 of 21
I'm not sure. On one hand, to me, it would feel a little like I was trying to replace DSD's mom. I don't think that would be something that she would want. If it was, then I would reconsider. But I just don't see it.

Ack. This reminds me that we need to get our wills in order. I am assuming that if something happened to both DSDM and then DF, he would have named me as the guardian in his will. But this is a pretty unlikely scenario. I still would think of myself more as her legal guardian/stepmom than mom in this case, though.

It might be different if DSD's mom was uninvolved in her life, but this is not the case.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthly_Joys View Post
Sorry if this is long winded and controversial. Just my .02 cents.
I don't think that's controversial at all if the other mom is unable/unwilling to be a parent. Some people just don't make good parents. What's that line from Parenthood? "You even need a license to fish, but anybody can be a parent." Ah, I love that movie. It's close to my heart.

Now I'm rambling. But, yay for people like you, Earthly_Joys!
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
For stepmoms: If something happened to your stepchild's mom, would you adopt your stepchild?
No. His stepdad would probably share custody of him with his father.

ETA: I thought about this a bit more and realized that my stepson's maternal grandmother would most likely pursue full custody.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
For moms: If something happened to you, would you be OK if your children were adopted by their stepmom? Does it make a difference if you died knowing who that stepmother would be? (I know that's a purely academic question, but just for the sake of argument.)
No. If something happens to me, it's already decided that my sister will take my daughters. (Assuming my husband dies, too.) If he lives, and marries someone else, no, she wouldn't be adopting my daughters because I don't trust his judgement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
This also comes out of the "you can't possibly love a stepchild like your own" idea that's often repeated (I have no input, either way, as I don't have "my own" yet)...what happens when a stepchild is adopted? Does a switch suddenly flip to "my own," or is there always a sense of "other" or is there something in between? (If that makes sense.)
Well, I don't love my stepson as I do my own children. Yes, some people can, but I don't.
I didn't even meet my stepson until he was already 7 years old and I've never liked boys much anyway, so both are factors.
post #15 of 21
Something else to think about is if a parent dies and the step parent adopts would the child continue to get SSI suvivor benefits? There can be a guardianship put into affect if the other bio parent dies. I would want my DH to adopt my older boys if something happened to their dad but if it would mean them not getting the benefits ( that I could use for their college) then I wouldnt do it.
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBaxter View Post
Something else to think about is if a parent dies and the step parent adopts would the child continue to get SSI suvivor benefits? There can be a guardianship put into affect if the other bio parent dies. I would want my DH to adopt my older boys if something happened to their dad but if it would mean them not getting the benefits ( that I could use for their college) then I wouldnt do it.
That's something I wondered as well (and neglected to ask my Trusts & Estates prof, not that he's the arbiter of such things but he knows his end-of-life and tax stuff)...

From the SSA's web site, though, it seems that at least *disability* benefits don't vanish upon adoption:
http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10153.html
(And a couple of attorney's sites found via google say that adoption doesn't terminate survivors benefits either, but you get what you pay for when you google legal advice so this is something I'd need to discuss with a real, live lawyer or SSA person.)

I suppose that would be one more factor to weigh...naming a guardian in a document doesn't guarantee guardianship, like adoption (virtually) does -- a court could decide that Grandma is a better guardian than the named one, including a stepparent, whereas a court would have to have an very, very good reason to remove a child from a legal parent upon the death of the other parent (not just that Grandma might be better -- but that the legal parent is harming the child).
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post
I suppose that would be one more factor to weigh...naming a guardian in a document doesn't guarantee guardianship, like adoption (virtually) does -- a court could decide that Grandma is a better guardian than the named one, including a stepparent, whereas a court would have to have an very, very good reason to remove a child from a legal parent upon the death of the other parent (not just that Grandma might be better -- but that the legal parent is harming the child).
Wouldn't the courts be more inclined to give custody to Gramma (or any other "real" relative) in case of both parents' deaths, instead of a Stepparent? It doesn't matter if the Stepparent is closer to the child than the "real" relative, don't most courts consider blood relatives more important than other relatives? That's why my Hubby is gonna adopt my son- because if something happened to me, there is nothing keeping my son from being taken away from my Hubby, the only Dad he's ever known. We were told by our lawyer that my son's Biological Father would get "first dibs"- legally, they'd have to track him down through the child support and ask him if he wanted him first (he hasn't seen our son since he was 3, doesn't want to, wouldn't keep him anyways) and then, when he said no, my family would get "first dibs". My family is great- I'd give him to my Gramma in a heartbeat... if my Hubby wasn't around. But if something happened to me and I died before my Hubby adopted my son, very likely, my son would be shipped back to MA (we live in NY) to see if his Biological Father wants him, and then my Hubby and then it would be between my Hubby and my family. I'm 99% sure that they'd let my Hubby keep my son, but I'd like to be 100% ssure, just in case. If my son lived with my family, my family can't travel like my Hubby could and would. I'm afraid my son would lose all contact with my Hubby's family, his whole life- school, friends, half his family, his whole life as he knew it. That's why it's important to me that my Hubby adopts my son. In my stepdaughter's case, if her Mother died, her Paternal Grandfather would do everything in his power to keep her from us, whether or not my Hubby was in the picture, whether or not I was able to adopt her. If my Hubby died, I would never see my stepdaughter again, not even be allowed to contact her to tell her goodbye.
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by harleyhalfmoon View Post
Wouldn't the courts be more inclined to give custody to Gramma (or any other "real" relative) in case of both parents' deaths, instead of a Stepparent? It doesn't matter if the Stepparent is closer to the child than the "real" relative, don't most courts consider blood relatives more important than other relatives? That's why my Hubby is gonna adopt my son- because if something happened to me, there is nothing keeping my son from being taken away from my Hubby, the only Dad he's ever known. We were told by our lawyer that my son's Biological Father would get "first dibs"- legally, they'd have to track him down through the child support and ask him if he wanted him first (he hasn't seen our son since he was 3, doesn't want to, wouldn't keep him anyways) and then, when he said no, my family would get "first dibs". My family is great- I'd give him to my Gramma in a heartbeat... if my Hubby wasn't around. But if something happened to me and I died before my Hubby adopted my son, very likely, my son would be shipped back to MA (we live in NY) to see if his Biological Father wants him, and then my Hubby and then it would be between my Hubby and my family. I'm 99% sure that they'd let my Hubby keep my son, but I'd like to be 100% ssure, just in case. If my son lived with my family, my family can't travel like my Hubby could and would. I'm afraid my son would lose all contact with my Hubby's family, his whole life- school, friends, half his family, his whole life as he knew it. That's why it's important to me that my Hubby adopts my son. In my stepdaughter's case, if her Mother died, her Paternal Grandfather would do everything in his power to keep her from us, whether or not my Hubby was in the picture, whether or not I was able to adopt her. If my Hubby died, I would never see my stepdaughter again, not even be allowed to contact her to tell her goodbye.
Ugh.

From what I gather...courts will give great weight to the guardian a parent names, but there's no guarantee. And it really depends on the state -- here, stepparents, grandparents, and de facto parents do have legal standing to pursue actions like this (and can try to avoid the situation you describe should your husband died -- here, you'd have the right as a stepparent to at least pursue visitation). Also, courts here tend to prefer the status quo -- they don't generally want to disrupt a child's residence (even an EOW residence) in favor of a grandparent's house they may have seen once a year, although again, nothing's guaranteed except ugliness once there's a custody battle.

Unfortunately, that "best interest of the child" standard is ill defined, and judges get very broad discretion.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abi's Mom View Post
No. If something happens to me, it's already decided that my sister will take my daughters. (Assuming my husband dies, too.) If he lives, and marries someone else, no, she wouldn't be adopting my daughters because I don't trust his judgement.
Well...do remember, if you've passed, you won't be in a position to object to it. You could put in your wills that neither of you will allow your children to be adopted by a stepparent, but that's enforced under contract law, not probate law, and some courts won't enforce a contract provision like that (as it's considered infringing on the new marriage, or getting involved in a family dispute). I suppose you could try to condition your husband's share of your estate on him not allowing the kids to be adopted, which would be a probate issue, but I'm not sure that would be enforced, either, because that would require the court to keep an eye on your estate forever (because adults can be adopted, too).

/practicing for my t&e midterm, don't mind me
post #20 of 21
I've seen cases in VA where people who are not step parents or relatives have been granted custody of a child. They did not adopt the child but they did have full physical custody. I think it is supposed to be about which situation is the most ideal. Does the child have a relationship with the step parent? How old are they? Are they in school there? Etc.

Anyone can fight for custody and rights. Anyone!
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