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Step parent adoption, and termination of non custodial parents rights

Auburn, WA |

My husband and I are looking to do a step parent adoption for our two boys. My husband and I have been together since 07-1998 and have been married since 07-2002. We have two girls togrther as well. I'd like to mention that though our boys know of the situations with their biological father my husband has always been their dad and has been activly rasing them since Nathan was 2.5 and justin was 6months, we had been dating five months when he made the choice to be their Daddy. I think this process will be relativley simple for Justin who is 10, his father passed away when he was 7months old. The situation is more complicated with our 12 year old Nathan I have tried to find his father to get him to release his rights, to no avail . The state collects child support from his father when they can find him, we have not received a payment since April and have no desire to collect further child support. Nathan's father had contact with us in the first year but since has made only one atempt to contact us when Nathan was 6. I am curious what our rights are?

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Attorney answers 2


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Attached is a link to the non-profit group Northwest Adoption Exchange with information regarding adoption in Washington state.


You are right about Justin's situation being the easiest from a legal standpoint. Because the biological father is not living, you will, obviously, not need his consent to the stepparent adoption. You will, however, be asked to provide proof of death as part of the process.

In Nathan's case, the parental rights of his biological father will need to be terminated in order for your husband to adopt Nathan. The best way to do this is to get the biological father's consent, on a consent form that meets the requirements of the law. An adoption lawyer can prepare this form for you, attempt to help locate and contact the biological father and, if necessary, meet with the him to request that he sign the consent. You can find reputable, experienced adoption attorneys in your area at the website of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. A link is posted below. Also, a list of Washington adoption attorneys can be found on pages 12 and 13 of the "Adoption Information Exchange" resource packet which is available online at another link posted below.

If it is not possible to get the biological father's consent, which may be the case in your situation, there are other procedures you may be able to follow to terminate his rights so that the step-parent adoption can go forward. The process gets somewhat more complex at this point, but your adoption lawyer can advise you about the options, considering the specific circumstances of your case.

Another requirement of the process is to have a report done by an adoption social worker, who will tell the court whether or not the step-parent adoption will be in the best interests of the children. This report is one of the documents that gets filed with the court as part of the adoption process. The social worker needs to be someone who is approved by the court as having the necessary qualifications to prepare that kind of report. A list of social workers who meet those qualifications can be found in the "Adoption Information Exchange" resource packet referred to above. Adoption social workers are in the section entitled "Pre- and Post-Placement Providers" on pages 14 and 15.

After all of the necessary documents are filed with the court, a date for a court hearing is scheduled. If the court approves, the judge signs Decrees of Adoption that change your sons' names (if your request that) and that make your husband the legal father of your sons.

After you have Decrees of Adoption, it will be possible to request that new birth certificates be issued to show your husband as the boys' father.

I hope that is helpful. Best wishes.