Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma?
To adopt a stepchild in Oklahoma, 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.
In Oklahoma, a stepparent may want to adopt their stepchild for a number of reasons. These may be a few of the causes:
- Adopting a stepchild gives the adoptive parent legal parental rights, including the authority to make decisions regarding the stepchild’s upbringing and medical treatment.
- The stepparent may feel a deep emotional connection to the stepchild and may want to adopt the kid to formalize this connection.
- The stepparent may receive financial advantages after adopting a stepchild, including inheritance and social security entitlements.
- Adoption can give a child a sense of permanence and security, especially if they had previously experienced upheaval in their lives as a result of their parental circumstances.
- In the event that the biological parent passes away or becomes unable, adoption can safeguard the child’s relationship with the stepparent.
- Taking the stepparents’ last name may be possible after adoption, which may help the child feel more like a part of the family.
- Adoption creates a legal bond between the child and the stepparent that may be crucial for an inheritance, social security benefits, and other legal issues.
How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Oklahoma
To adopt your stepchild in Oklahoma 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
It is not necessary to retain legal counsel in Oklahoma in order to adopt a stepchild. However, it’s crucial to take into account the advantages of working with a lawyer to assist you with the adoption procedure.
You can get helpful legal counsel and assistance throughout the adoption process by hiring a lawyer.
This can assist in making sure that the adoption is finished quickly and effectively and that all legal criteria are met.
A lawyer can also ensure that your parental rights are upheld while guiding you through the complex legal system.
Additionally, they may assist you in understanding the legal criteria and processes that must be followed as well as in the drafting of important legal documents like the petition for adoption.
An attorney might also be useful if there are any issues or disagreements that come up during the adoption process.
If required, they can offer advice and legal representation in court.
A lawyer may assist you in navigating the legal system and ensuring that your rights as a stepparent are protected while being sensitive to the emotions of the child and the other parent.
Visit here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Oklahoma.
Visit Your Local Courthouse
If an Oklahoma stepparent wants to adopt their stepchild, they should look into their local courthouse for resources and information. The stepparent might be able to obtain court form packets that are particular to Oklahoma’s adoption procedure from the local courthouse.
Stepparents can benefit from obtaining court form packets from their local courthouse since they will have access to the forms and information needed to finish the adoption procedure.
Forms like an adoption petition, a consent form from the other biological parent, and other paperwork the court may order could be found in these bundles.
The stepparent should make sure they are utilizing the appropriate forms for their situation because the forms may differ depending on the individual adoption conditions.
The local courthouse may also be able to provide details on the procedures and prerequisites for adopting a stepchild in Oklahoma, such as the adoption costs and any background checks or home studies that may be necessary.
Find a local Oklahoma courthouse near you.
Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service
A site that specializes in offering stepchild adoption forms is where an Oklahoma stepparent can obtain the court documents they need to adopt their stepchild.
You can find these services by searching the internet for “stepparent adoption forms,” and they often offer court forms that are particular to the state of Oklahoma and the stepparent adoption procedure.
Keep in mind that although these services provide stepparent adoption court forms and may fill them out for you, they do not and will not provide legal advice.
They can assist the stepparents in obtaining the paperwork and instructions needed to finish the adoption process.
Stepparents must realize that using these sites to purchase forms does not eliminate the necessity for legal counsel.
The stepparents should be aware of the legal requirements and processes that must be followed, even though these forms may be useful in supplying the required papers for the adoption process.
Confirm the accuracy and currentness of the forms being purchased. These services’ forms might not always be the most recent iterations and they might not be tailored to the stepparents’ situation, which might cause issues and mistakes.
Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, there are a number of processes that must be taken before the adoption of a stepchild by a stepparent can be approved by the court. These procedures involve submitting an adoption petition, concluding a home study and background investigation, getting the biological parent’s approval, and ending the biological parent’s parental rights.
Filing of the Petition for Adoption
An essential part of the stepparent adoption procedure is the filing of the petition for adoption. The petition, a legal document that must be submitted to the court, serves as the adoption’s formal request.
The petition will contain information on the child, such as their name, date of birth, and current address, as well as details about the stepparent, such as their name, address, and line of work.
A description of the stepparent’s connection with the child and how long they have been cohabitating will also be included in the petition.
In addition, if the non-custodial biological parent is opposed to the adoption, the petition will ask the court to approve it and revoke their parental rights.
Any further pertinent data that the court would need to take into account while deciding whether or not to approve the adoption will also be included in the petition.
The petition must be filed in the county where the stepparent and the child reside.
It is also crucial to make sure the petition is exact and comprehensive, since any mistakes or omissions may cause the adoption to be delayed or denied.
The court will schedule a hearing after the petition is submitted so that the stepparent can present evidence in support of their application for adoption.
After considering the facts, the court will decide whether or not to adopt the child.
Home Study and Background Check
In order to evaluate whether the stepparent is a suitable parent for the child, the home study and background check are crucial elements in the stepparent adoption procedure.
A social worker often does the home study by visiting the stepparent’s residence and interviewing them to ascertain whether they are a suitable parent for the child.
In order to learn more about the child’s living situation, the social worker will also interview the youngster and other family members.
The social worker will then write a report outlining their conclusions and suggestions for the court.
The home study procedure also includes a background check. A background check is conducted to verify sure the stepparent has no history of criminal activity or other problems that might exclude them from being a good parent.
The background investigation will look into the stepparent’s criminal history as well as any instances of abuse or neglect in the past.
Because they enable the court to make an educated decision about the adoption, the home study and background check are crucial.
They aid in ensuring that the child’s best interests are taken into account by giving the court information about the stepparent’s capacity to give the child a safe and stable household.
Keep in mind that the background check and home study procedures might take many weeks to complete, and it’s the stepparent’s job to cooperate and supply all requested information.
Consent of the Biological Parent
The biological parent’s consent is a necessary stage in the stepparent adoption procedure. The biological parent of the kid must provide their approval for the court to approve the adoption.
The biological parent’s consent may be expressed in writing, signed in front of a notary public, and submitted to the court.
The adoption agreement should specify that the biological parent has given their approval and is aware of the legal ramifications of doing so.
It’s crucial to remember that even if the non-custodial parent, the parent who does not have physical custody of the child, refuses to consent to the adoption, the court may nonetheless approve it if it finds that it is in the child’s best interests.
The relationship between the child and the stepparent, the child’s living circumstances, and the explanations for the non-custodial parent’s refusal to consent are some of the considerations the court will take into account.
Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights
An essential phase of the stepparent adoption procedure is the termination of biological parents’ rights. It is the procedure used to terminate the biological parent’s parental rights so that the stepparent can be recognized as the child’s legal parent.
In order to revoke a biological parent’s parental rights, a court hearing is usually required.
At this hearing, the stepparent must prove to the judge that doing so is in the child’s best interests.
The relationship between the child and the stepparent, the child’s living arrangements, and the explanations for why the biological parent’s rights were terminated may all be considered as evidence.
The decision about whether or not to revoke the biological parent’s rights will be made by the court after it has carefully considered all the evidence.
The biological parent will lose all legal rights and obligations to the child, including the ability to visit the child and make decisions regarding their upbringing, if the court approves the termination.
The court will only terminate a biological parent’s rights if it decides that doing so is in the child’s best interests. It is vital to emphasize that doing so is a serious matter and is not granted lightly.
Finalization of the Adoption
The stepparent adoption process ends with the finalization of the adoption, at which point the adoption is formally recognized by law. A final adoption order, a legal document that certifies the stepparent is now the child’s legal parent, will be provided to the stepparent after the court has approved the adoption.
If the stepparent desires it, the child’s name will likewise be changed in the final adoption order.
Following the issuance of the final adoption order, the stepparent will be in charge of making all monetary and legal choices pertaining to the child.
The stepparent will have the same authority to make medical decisions for the child if necessary, and the child will have the same inheritance rights as a biological child.
The adoption procedure might take several months to complete, and it’s the stepparent’s duty to comply and give the court any information it requests.
Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.
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 Oklahoma
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 Oklahoma 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 Oklahoma?
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.
A stepparent adoption, also known as a “Related Adoption” in Oklahoma, is a considerably more simplified procedure than other forms of adoption, which can contain criteria such as home studies, extensive waiting periods, and more.
Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Oklahoma?
A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Oklahoma. 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 Oklahoma?
Under code Ann. Stat. Tit. 10, § 7503-2.1, a father’s consent to an adoption in the state of Oklahoma involves the following.
Written consent to adoption or a permanent relinquishment for adoption must be executed by:
- Both parents
- One parent alone if:
- The other parent is dead.
- The parental rights of the other parent have been terminated.
- The consent of the other parent is otherwise not required pursuant to § 7505‑4.2.
Consent to adoption is not required from a parent who:
- For 12 consecutive months out of the last 14 months immediately preceding the filing of a petition for adoption of a child has willfully failed, refused, or neglected to contribute to the support of such minor
- Is entitled to custody of a minor and has abandoned the minor
- Fails to establish and/or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the minor for 12 consecutive months
- Has been convicted of physically or sexually abusing the minor or a sibling of the minor or failed to protect the minor or a sibling of the minor from physical or sexual abuse that resulted in severe harm or injury
- Has been convicted in a criminal action of having caused the death of a sibling of the minor as a result of the physical or sexual abuse or chronic neglect of such sibling
- Has been sentenced to a period of incarceration of not less than 10 years and the continuation of parental rights would result in harm to the minor
- Has a mental illness or mental deficiency that renders the parent incapable of adequately and appropriately exercising parental rights, duties, and responsibilities
- Has permanently relinquished parental rights and responsibilities to the minor
- Has had his or her parental relationship with a minor legally terminated or legally determined not to exist
- Has voluntarily placed a minor child in the care of a licensed child care institution or child-placing agency, if the minor has remained in out‑of‑home care for 18 months or more, and the parent has willfully failed to substantially comply for 12 consecutive months out of the 14‑month period immediately preceding the filing of the petition for adoption with a reasonable written plan of care
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.