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

Maine 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 Maine?

To adopt a stepchild in Maine, 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 Maine

There are a number of reasons a stepparent might want to adopt their stepchild in Maine, including:

  • To formalize the parent-child relationship and acquire legal parental rights and obligations, including making decisions regarding the child’s education and medical care.
  • Instilling a sense of stability and security in the child as adoption establishes a stable and long-lasting family.
  • Guarantees that, in the event that the biological parent is unable to do so, the stepparent can make crucial decisions for the child.
  • To give the child inheritance rights and other benefits, like Social Security and military benefits, that a stepchild might not be eligible for.
  • To grant the child the same protections and legal rights as a biological child.

How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Maine

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

Hire an Adoption Lawyer

In Maine, it is not required to consult a lawyer when adopting a stepchild, but it may be beneficial to do so as the procedure can still be complicated. An experienced adoption lawyer can help guide you through the process and make sure it is properly and quickly completed.

A lawyer can help with the following during the stepparent adoption process:

  • If necessary, help get the consent of the biological parent or petition the court to terminate their rights.
  • The required steps for adoption include filing the adoption petition and the consent or termination order.
  • Providing legal representation for the stepparent in court and meeting any necessary requirements.
  • Providing guidance on any potential legal matters that could arise during the adoption process.
  • Facilitating the resolution of any conflicts among those involved in the adoption process.

A lawyer can also give helpful advice and assistance to stepparents who don’t know the legal system, making their experience even smoother.

Having a lawyer during an adoption process is not required, but it can be beneficial in making sure everything is done correctly and in a timely fashion.

Furthermore, their guidance can help to reduce some of the stress and confusion associated with the process.

Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Maine.

Visit Your Local Courthouse

Maine stepparents who wish to adopt their stepchild should contact their local courthouse for information regarding the adoption process. Court form packets, which often include an adoption petition, consent or termination papers, and other court-mandated forms, are usually available at courthouses.

At the local courthouse, stepparents have the convenience and cost-benefit of obtaining court form packets that should contain the required forms.

However, it should be kept in mind that these packets won’t offer assistance in completing or navigating the court process.

Stepparents should consider seeking help from a legal professional, such as an attorney or adoption agency when attempting to adopt.

Doing so will assist in making sure everything is done correctly and efficiently during the potentially complex adoption process.

For prospective stepparents in Maine who are interested in adopting their stepchild, it is highly recommended to visit your local courthouse for form packets and instructions related to the adoption process.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider the legal complexity of the undertaking and seek qualified assistance if necessary.

Find a local Maine courthouse near you.

Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service

Those looking to adopt their stepchild in Maine can access stepparent adoption court forms through a service. These services usually provide forms and detailed directions specific to the state of Maine. A simple search of “stepparent adoption forms” on Google can uncover these services.

While convenient and cost-effective, purchasing forms through service may not provide the same level of guidance and support that an attorney or adoption agency can.

In fact, these services do not and will not provide legal advice, as their service is providing the court forms needed for the state in which their customer resides.

These forms may not be tailored to your individual situation, which can lead to mistakes or omissions that cause delays in the adoption process.

Before purchasing forms from the service, it’s important to verify their reputation and make sure that they are in compliance with Maine’s laws.

Additionally, it would be beneficial to find out if the service offers any kind of assistance or clarification in case you need help.

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

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

Adoption Process

In Maine, stepparents who wish to adopt their stepchildren must follow specific steps. The adoption process starts at the petition stage and concludes with the finalization of the adoption.

Filing of the Petition for Adoption

In Maine, filing a petition for stepparent adoption is the first step of the adoption process. This legal document must be submitted to the court and contains details about the prospective stepparent, the biological parent, and the stepchild.

The information in this petition may differ according to each particular case but usually includes:

  • Those involved in the adoption, including their names and residences (the stepparent, the stepchild, and the biological parent)
  • An explanation of the motivations for the adoption request
  • Information on the relationship between the stepparent and the stepchild
  • Information regarding the stepchild’s relationship with the biological parents
  • Information on the stepparent’s past, including their age, profession, and whether they have ever been married or adopted.
  • Details about the stepchild, such as their age, birthday, and present residence
  • An affirmation of the stepparent’s dedication to the child and their capacity to give the child a secure and caring household

It is essential to remember that the petition must be signed by the stepparent under oath, and it typically includes other documents such as a consent or termination order, plus any other court-mandated forms.

When submitting your petition, make sure all the information is accurate and the forms are fully completed.

Additionally, be prepared to pay the necessary filing fees and submit them to the appropriate court. Incorrectly filing the court forms or incorrectly providing information can slow down the adoption process.

It is essential to seek counsel from a legal specialist in order to guarantee that all proceedings are handled accurately and expeditiously.

An attorney can assist with assembling the request and other records, submit them to the court, and provide representation for the stepparent during the procedure.

Home Study and Background Check

In Maine, a home study and background check are integral parts of the stepparent adoption process. These assessments are performed to verify that the stepparent is suitable for adoption and to guarantee that the adoption will benefit the child.

Home Study

A home study is an assessment of the stepparent’s environment and habits. It is usually done by a social worker or an adoption service and will incorporate a meeting with the stepparent, the stepchild, and the natural parent.

The social worker will also be paying attention to the conditions and security of the home. The home study will contain data on:

  • The stepparent’s and the stepchild’s relationship
  • The stepparent’s history
  • The stepchild’s present living circumstance
  • The stepparent’s capacity to give a solid and secure home for the child.

As part of the home study, information about the stepparent’s family will be gathered such as their connection with the child, living arrangement, and any other children they may have.

Additionally, the home study will analyze the stepparent’s parenting capabilities and their ability to provide for the child’s needs.

Background Check

An investigation is carried out during the adoption process to verify the potential stepparent’s criminal history, previous court judgments, and any other relevant data as deemed necessary by the court.

This scrutiny is used to make sure there are no prior criminal offenses or dangerous risks that may endanger the child.

The home study and background check are crucial elements of the adoption process, which assess whether the adoption is best for the child. The court will take this information into consideration when making its decision regarding finalization.

It is vital to remember that the home study and background checks take some time, so being organized and helpful during the whole process will guarantee that everything is finished appropriately.

Additionally, it’s essential to be mindful that the findings of the assessments may be taken into consideration in court proceedings, thus it is crucial to be open and accurate with the data shared.

Consent of the Biological Parent

A key element in the stepparent adoption procedure in Maine is getting the biological parent’s consent. To move forward with the adoption, the biological parent’s approval is required. The court may terminate the rights of the biological parent if they refuse.

A signed affidavit or a court order is needed to give legal consent for the adoption. The affidavit will include the biological parent’s identification information, such as name, address, and signature, along with a declaration that they are voluntarily giving their consent for the adoption.

The biological parent must voluntarily and willingly provide consent and be thoroughly informed about the consequences of their choice.

In some cases, the court might necessitate that the biological parent get counseling or legal advice prior to granting consent.

For a successful adoption, the legal consent of the biological parent is vital. There are instances where this consent may be revoked or contested which can result in extended wait times or even suspension of the process entirely.

For successful adoption, it’s critical for the stepparent and biological parent to communicate, come to an agreement on the process, and get help from a qualified legal professional if need be.

A lawyer can give advice, offer support along the way, and ensure that consent is given without coercion or manipulation.

Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights

An essential phase in the stepparent adoption procedure in Maine is the termination of the biological parent’s rights. It is a legal procedure that ends the child’s legal connection to the biological parent, allowing the stepparent to adopt the child.

There are various ways to revoke parental rights:

  • The biological parent may willingly consent to have their rights terminated. This is frequently done when the biological parent agrees that the stepparent should adopt the child since they are unable or unable to care for the child.
  • If the biological parent is deemed unfit to raise the child, the court may involuntarily revoke their parental rights. This may be done if the biological parent has given up on the child, if there is a history of abuse or neglect, or if the biological parent is physically or mentally incapable of raising the child.
  • If the child’s biological parent abandons them, the court may revoke their parental rights without their permission.

Termination of parental rights is a serious matter, so the court will take into account the welfare of the child when making their ruling.

Factors such as abandonment, unfitness, or neglect will be weighed in coming to a decision.

Once the rights are terminated, a stepparent can move forward with the adoption process.

It’s also imperative to note that terminating parental rights is an irreversible and finalized procedure, so it makes sense to seek out qualified legal assistance before starting.

The termination of parental rights is a complex process and can produce challenging results depending on the circumstances.

Therefore, it is important to seek professional legal counsel in order to ensure that the process is completed accurately and promptly.

Finalization of the Adoption

The last step of stepparent adoption in Maine is completing the adoption and having the court recognize this relationship. This makes the stepparent a legal parent with all the applicable rights and responsibilities of a biological parent.

At the court hearing for stepparent adoption, the petition, home study and background check, consent or termination order, and other relevant documents will all be reviewed.

The judge will also hear statements from both the stepparent and stepchild as well as the biological parent while considering any additional evidence presented.

If the court decides that adoption is best for the child, they will create a legally-binding document that grants the step-parent’s adoption and terminates the biological parent’s parental rights.

Once the court order is in place, the stepparent will be responsible for the child’s care and must provide them with all rights that a biological parent would such as inheritance rights, social security benefits, and any veterans benefits.

It’s essential to understand that completing this process may take some time, and it may vary depending on the applicable court and particulars of the case.

To guarantee everything is done correctly and promptly, it’s recommended to request assistance from a competent legal specialist.

Finalizing the adoption is an important milestone with legal and emotional ramifications for everyone involved.

This gives the stepparent parental rights and responsibilities, as well as ensuring the child has a permanent, legally binding family.

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 Maine

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 Maine 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 home? 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 Maine?

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 your stepchild for quite some time, you may request to have the home study waived.

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

A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Maine. 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 Maine?

Under citation code Rev. Stat. Tit. 18-A, § 9-302, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Maine involves the following.

Written consent to the adoption must be given by:

  • Each living parent

Consent to adoption is not required of:

  • A putative father or a legal father who is not the birth father if he:
    • Received notice and failed to respond to the notice within the prescribed time period
    • Waived his right to notice under § 9‑201(c)
    • Failed to meet the standards of § 9‑201(i)
    • Holds no parental rights regarding the child under the laws of the foreign jurisdiction in which the child was born
  • A parent whose parental rights have been terminated
  • A parent who has executed a surrender and release pursuant to § 9‑202
  • A parent whose parental rights have been voluntarily or judicially terminated and transferred to a public agency or a duly licensed private agency pursuant to the laws of another State or country
  • The parent of an adoptee who is age 18 or older

Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.