It is beautiful when a family comes together. Adopting your stepchild can complete the process and show your commitment to the ones who depend on you.
The process does not require an attorney, but it is much easier with one. The steps have to be followed in order, and many different parties have to agree. But in the end it is often worth it for blended families that want to make it clear that they are spending the rest of their lives together.
The first step in the process is often the hardest one. The biological parent has to either voluntarily give up their rights to the child or they have to be taken away by a court. The process is known as termination of parental rights, and it can be difficult if it is contested.
If the biological parent is absent and has been for over a year, the process can be concluded by the court. It is also fairly straightforward in cases of child abuse or other action against the parent for abandonment. But if it is contested there will be a lengthy process, as Georgia does not terminate a parent's rights easily.
Once a child is free to be adopted, it is important to show the court that you have the resources to raise them properly. The standard is always the best interest of the child, and you will have to demonstrate this.
If they are over 12 years old, you will also have to obtain the child's consent to be adopted. There are some other small considerations that will be looked at by the courts before adoption is approved.
Once it is approved
A new birth certificate is granted listing you as the child's legal parent once it is all approved. At that time, they can have their name changed if it is desired.
If you are considering a stepchild adoption, it is always a good idea to speak with a family law attorney first. The process is complex enough that it helps to have expertise in the matter in order to be sure that it is done in a satisfactory way.