How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Hawaii: 3 Things You Must Know

Hawaii adoptions can be full of long processes and requirements, yet when adopting your stepchild, the process is not always that extensive. Many stepparents fall in love with their stepchildren and wish to adopt them as their own. So how do you adopt your stepchild in Hawaii?

To adopt a stepchild in Hawaii, the stepparent wishing to adopt must obtain stepchild adoption court forms, often available at the local courthouse, or may be purchased online from a court form service. If the biological parent is contest the adoption, then hiring a lawyer is strongly encouraged.

adopting a stepchild in Hawaii

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Hawaii

To adopt your stepchild in Hawaii you can either hire a lawyer, visit your local courthouse and ask if they provide stepchild adoption court form packets, or you can purchase court forms through a service that specializes in stepchild adoption court forms.

Hire an Adoption Lawyer

In Hawaii, one is not required to recruit a legal representative to legally adopt a stepchild. However, the expertise of an attorney can prove beneficial as they can deliver direction and aid during the complicated and lengthy process.

A lawyer may help you understand the legal regulations of adoption, including any examinations or home study that could be required, in addition to guiding you through the court system.

An attorney can oversee the legal paperwork and support you during proceedings in court.

Also, having an attorney on your team may guarantee that all lawful processes are followed correctly which could boost your chances for a prosperous adoption.

To summarize, while employing a lawyer is not required, considering legal counsel is strongly recommended.

Click here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Hawaii.

Visit Your Local Courthouse

When considering the adoption of a stepchild, stepparents should review the adoption laws and requirements in their jurisdiction. To acquire this information, they can contact the court clerk’s office or visit the courthouse in person.

Court form packets usually include each of the forms required for a stepparent adoption in your district along with instructions essential to conclude the adoption course of action.

Some courthouses employ family law facilitators who are there to help point you in the right direction. They do not and cannot provide legal advice, but they can provide assistance with knowing what forms to fill out.

Although not required, a lawyer can help make sure all legal demands are met and the transition goes off without a hitch.

Find a local courthouse in Hawaii here.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

A stepparent wanting to adopt their stepchild may obtain stepchild adoption court forms through a service such as These companies supply the adoption court forms and directions for finalizing the adoption procedure.

When going through with an adoption, it is important to remember that using a service to acquire court forms is convenient, but may be not enough.

You should also be sure to seek legal advice and guidance, as services that provide court forms do not and cannot provide legal advice.

A lawyer’s help can prove incredibly valuable during this process, as they can provide an understanding of the laws and regulations surrounding the process.

Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Hawaii.

Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.

Adoption Process

The process of adopting a stepchild as a stepparent typically involves several steps, including filing a petition for adoption, completing a home study and background check, obtaining consent from the biological parent, and finalizing the adoption in court.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

To begin the stepparent adoption process, a Petition for Adoption must be submitted to the court. This is a formal request asking the court to grant permission for the stepparent to adopt their stepchild.

This petition should be filed in the county where both the stepchild and stepparent reside.

The petition should provide details about the stepparent, stepchild, and biological parent, although the specifics may vary according to state laws and regulations.

Generally speaking, the information requested may include:

  • The complete names, dates of birth, and locations of the stepparent, stepchild, and biological parent.
  • The stepparent’s job, employment records, and income source.
  • How long the stepparent has been in the stepchild’s life and what role they’ve played in their upbringing is important.
  • The adoption is being sought because the stepparent has a special connection with the child, and it is seen as being in their best interest.

The stepparent must sign the petition, and they must also pay a filing fee to the court. A hearing date will then be set by the court, and a notification of this hearing will be sent to the biological parent for them to respond.

It is essential to make sure the petition is filled out correctly and fully, with all the necessary documents attached.

It might be beneficial to seek legal advice to guarantee that the petition is filed accurately and that the right information is included.

A lawyer can provide representation for the stepparent in court during the hearing.

Home Study and Background Check

Completing a home study and background check are essential components of the stepparent adoption process, which both serve to examine whether or not the stepparent is prepared to assume parental responsibilities.

Home Study

A home study is a review of the stepparent’s home and domestic life, implemented by a social worker or another expert. Usually, the home study consists of a discussion with the stepparent, the stepchild, and any other occupants of the residence.

The social worker will also go to the stepparent’s house to guarantee that it is secure and appropriate for the minor.

The inspection will additionally judge the psychological, financial, and physical capacity of the stepparent to supply for the kid.

Background Check

To ensure the stepparent is a suitable parent, a background check may be performed.

This check can include an examination of the individual’s criminal records, as well as an investigation into the stepparent’s previous involvement with child protective services or any adoption proceedings they have had.

The court requires both a home study and background check to be completed in order to determine the best interest of the child and guarantee their safety and well-being prior to granting approval of the adoption.

It is critical to understand that the home study and background check procedure can take several weeks or more and it is essential to cooperate completely with the social worker or other qualified person carrying out the assessment.

A lawyer can provide assistance with the process and address any questions or concerns that could come up during the assessment.

Consent of the Biological Parent

Getting permission from the biological parent is a key step in the process of stepparent adoption. Generally, the biological parent must approve the adoption before it can be finalized.

A biological parent may legally consent to a stepparent adoption by signing a document, usually known as a “Consent to Adoption” or “Relinquishment of Parental Rights”, that has been notarized and given voluntarily.

In some cases of stepparent adoption, a court may not require consent from the other biological parent, as long as they are not involved in the child’s life.

Proof that they are not participating in the child’s life or a written waiver of rights may be necessary for the court.

It’s important to remember that in certain circumstances, getting the biological parent’s consent may be difficult, especially if they are unwilling to give up their parental rights.

In such cases, the adoption process might be more complex and need a court hearing to decide whether or not it is suitable to strip away the biological parent’s rights.

The validity of the consent should be determined to ensure it is provided voluntarily and not due to pressure or manipulation.

Consulting with a lawyer will ensure that the process is properly followed, make sure the consent is valid, and help advocate on behalf of the stepparent in court if needed.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

In order to adopt a stepchild as a stepparent, Termination of Parental Rights (or “TPR”) must be completed when the biological parent is unable or unwilling to provide care for the child or has a history of abuse or neglect.

The termination of parental rights varies by state, but typically entails a court appearance in which the judge assesses all evidence, such as the biological parent’s history of neglect or abuse, their relationship to the child, and their capability to meet the child’s needs.

The court will evaluate if the adoption by the stepparent is in the child’s best interest, and all in all, what is most beneficial for them.

Upon making its decision, it will then deliver a judgment that ends the biological parent’s rights, thus allowing the adoption process to move forward.

Terminating parental rights is often an intricate, lengthy process that may necessitate evidence from social workers, professionals, and other testimony.

An attorney can not only offer guidance in navigating this procedure but also stand by you in the courtroom during the hearing.

Termination of parental rights is a permanent decision that can be emotionally traumatic for all involved, particularly the child. It’s critical to determine if this decision is made in the boy or girl’s best interest and that they are safe and looked after properly.

Finalization of the Adoption

The finalization of the adoption is the last step in the process of adopting a stepchild as a stepparent.

The court hearing to finalize the adoption includes a review of the petition for adoption, the home study, background check, and any other evidence regarding the best interest of the child.

The judge will take into consideration all available information before making a decision on whether or not to approve the stepparent’s adoption.

When the judge is convinced that an adoption serves the child’s best interest and all relevant legal standards have been met, they will confirm the adoption and hand down a final adoption order.

This order will give the stepparent a legal parent over the child.

It’s important to understand that the court process can take several months or more, so it’s essential for one to attend the hearing and be adequately prepared for when the judge asks questions.

Legal counsel is recommended to help guide through the process and support a stepparent during the court session.

Once the adoption is completed, the stepparent will become the legal parent of the child and bear the same rights and responsibilities as those of a biological parent, including making decisions about their education and healthcare, as well as providing for their needs.

Should I Adopt My Stepchild?

A part of life is that many parents find themselves remarried with stepchildren. You may be asking yourself, should I adopt my stepchild?

You should adopt your stepchild if you are prepared for a lifelong commitment. Adoption is permanent, and you cannot change your mind should you and your spouse later decide to divorce. If you are prepared to love and honor your commitment to your adopted stepchild, you should adopt your stepchild.

If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, there are some things you will want to think about before taking the plunge.

It is safe to assume that you love your stepchild, so let’s go over some things to make sure you have covered all your bases.

It is important to remember that adopting your stepchild is a lifelong commitment. You may have a very good marriage now, but even good marriages can turn rocky.

At the beginning of a new marriage, you are in love and over the moon with happiness. Having romantic ideas of how the family dynamics will be is normal and sets a positive path forward.

Just know that you cannot simply change your mind about the adoption down the road if your marriage does not work out.

If you are unwilling to continue the parent/child relationship if your marriage goes south, then you should not adopt your stepchild.

Should the marriage end in divorce, you will still need to have cordial communications with the child’s other parent to co-parent your child.

Other things to consider would be if your marriage ended in divorce, you would be financially responsible for half of the expense of raising the child.

After a divorce, you would still be tied to your spouse for life, as you would both have a child together. Until the child turns 18 years of age, there will still be periods when the child resides with you.

No one wants to think about the possibility of divorce when things feel so right. Statistically, however, about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If you are not willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child, then you should not adopt the child.

Providing you do decide to proceed with the adoption of your stepchild, keep in mind that there are things you will want and need to do afterward to tie up any loose ends.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt My Stepchild?

It’s a common question, do you need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild?

You do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild. Visit your local courthouse to acquire the required court forms and a list of requirements. Although you are not required to have an attorney to adopt your stepchild, hiring an attorney for any life-changing event is highly recommended.

You most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild, as the process is a bit less complicated than other types of adoption.

Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in Hawaii

Attorneys are nice to have and can do the leg work for you, but you most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild.

If you are feeling a bit lost and want more information on starting your adoption journey, you may want to visit Hawaii Adoption Requirements: Complete Guide.

Just keep in mind that many of the requirements will not apply to you if you are already residing with your stepchild.

Providing there is no anticipated legal battle from one of the biological parents, then one would be encouraged to obtain the court forms from your local courthouse, usually available to download online.

You may also wish to contact your local Department of Human Resources to speak to someone about how to process your adoption petition or reach out to your local courthouse.

Most courthouses have what is called a facilitator who helps guide you in the steps you need to take to complete legal processes without a lawyer.

Stepparent Adoption Contested by Biological Parent

Adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents. You will need the blessing of your spouse as well as the other parent.

How will the biological parent feel about the idea of a stepparent wanting to adopt their child? This depends on the relationship between the biological parent and the child.

There are times when the other parent will voluntarily terminate their rights to their child. Perhaps there is very little relationship between the parent and child.

If the stepparent has taken on the active parenting role, and if the biological parent recognizes their lack of involvement, they may agree to know the adoption decision is in the best interest of their child.

When the biological parent’s rights are terminated, it also frees them from court-ordered financial obligations.

Sadly, this can be a huge motivating factor for some biological parents to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children.

What do you do, though, if the biological parent refuses to give permission and contests the adoption? States will almost always only allow two parents to have parental rights to a child. However, there have been a few cases where the courts have allowed three parents.

States are required to take the parental rights of the biological parent very seriously and will only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child.

A parent can be found to be unfit for several reasons. Examples of an unfit parent can be things like being abusive or neglectful. Are they incarcerated or have they been incarcerated?

Is the biological parent’s home environment safe for this child? What type of people do they hang out with and have visited their homes? Many things can deem a parent unfit.

For a parent to be accused of parental abandonment, the parent must not have spent any time with the child or paid child support in a very long time, usually a year.

If there is a question of paternity and it can be proven through the court system that the “biological” parent is not the parent, after all, that opens the door for adoption possibilities.

However, the rights tend to be placed with the biological parent, so that can be a tricky scenario.

Telling a Child Their Stepparent is Adopting Them

Depending on the age of this child being adopted, you will most certainly be excited to tell them the good news! In some states, a child over a certain age will need to permit to be adopted.

Not telling the child they are being adopted by the stepparent can create mistrust and hurt down the road, so think twice if you were planning on not telling them until later.

I strongly encourage you to not keep the adoption hidden from the child or children. Allow them the opportunity to be excited about being adopted! Involve them in the process and celebrate!

And hats off to you if you are a stepparent considering adopting your stepchild. It takes a huge heart and unconditional love to adopt a child that is not biologically yours.

And when you are helping raise a child, you are already a huge part of their life whether you make it official or not.

What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent Adoptions in Hawaii?

Prior to permitting an adoption to take place, a home study or home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents.

A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even though it isn’t legally needed, an adoption agency may insist on it.

If you have been married and living with the child for quite some time, you may request to have the home study waived.

Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Hawaii?

A child who is fourteen (14) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Hawaii. Younger children are not required to give their consent.

You are encouraged to proceed with a stepparent adoption during a time when your stepchild will react favorably to knowing you are adopting them.

Important to remember when planning to adopt your stepchild is that it is likely your stepchild has been through quite a lot.

Absent biological parents not voluntarily involved in their child’s life can be a painful emotion to live with for your stepchild.

Another thing to consider is the timing of the stepparent adoption. Was there a divorce previous to your marriage with your stepchild’s parent that your stepchild is still reeling from?

Children often suffer emotionally from the loss of a biological parent. Even a marriage viewed as a positive step forward takes time for a child to adjust to.

Consider letting the dust settle between major life events.

Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent in Hawaii?

Under citation code Rev. Stat. § 578-2(a), a father’s consent to an adoption in Hawaii involves the following.

Written consent to a proposed adoption must be executed by:

  • A legal father
  • An adjudicated father whose relationship to the child has been determined by a court
  • A presumed father
  • A concerned natural father who is not the legal, adjudicated, or presumed father but who has demonstrated a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility as to the welfare of a child:
    • During the first 30 days after the child’s birth
    • Prior to the execution of valid consent by the mother of the child
    • Prior to the placement of the child with adoptive parents

Consent is not required from the following:

  • A parent who has deserted a child for a period of 90 days without affording means of identification
  • A parent who has voluntarily surrendered the care and custody of the child to another for a period of 2 years
  • A parent, whose child is in the custody of another, who has failed for a period of at least one 1year to communicate with the child or provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so
  • A natural father who was not married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s conception or birth and has not established paternity
  • A parent whose parental rights have been judicially terminated
  • A parent judicially declared mentally ill, mentally retarded, or incapacitated from giving consent
  • Any legal guardian or custodian who is found by the court to be withholding consent unreasonably
  • A parent of a child who has been in the custody of a petitioner for at least 1 year and who entered the United States as a consequence of extraordinary circumstances in the child’s country of origin, by reason of which the existence, identity, or whereabouts of the child’s parents is not reasonably ascertainable or there are no reasonable means of obtaining suitable evidence of the child’s identity or availability for adoption
  • Any parent of the adoptee if the adoptee is an adult eligible for adoption under this section
  • A parent whose parental and custodial duties and rights have been divested by an award of permanent custody pursuant to § 587‑73