The word “adoption” often causes Ohio residents to imagine scenarios in which individuals bring children into their homes to become a part of their families. Some adoptions involve the uniting of American parents with international children, while others may involve the creation of legal bonds between foster parents and the children they have cared for.

Another form of adoption exists which is more common than some may think. This form of adoption is stepparent adoption, and it involves the creation of a legal relationship between a person and their spouse’s children.

When individuals with children get married, their new spouses do not become legal parents to their children. In many cases the children may still have two parents who love and care for them but who simply have chosen not to remain in their marital or committed relationship. When a child still has two parents in the picture, a stepparent may need to embrace their role as a positive adult influence in the children’s lives.

However, when a person marries someone with children and the kids do not have a second parent in their lives, the stepparent may have the option of adopting them and becoming the children’s legal parent. In situations where a parent has died or has had their legal parental rights terminated by the courts, many stepparents have the option to seek legal recognition of their relationship with their spouses’ children.

Not all stepparents who have the option of adopting their spouses’ children do so, and not all children wish to become the legal kids of their stepparents. Deciding to pursue stepparent adoption is personal to individual families, but those that require more information about this process should discuss their questions with their family law attorneys.