Adoption is a legal process that creates a new, parent-child relationship where one did not exist or after the parental relationship has been terminated. Adoption proceedings are lengthy and take place in court before a judge in the juvenile court. Adoption bestows on the adoptive parent(s) all the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent, and gives the child being adopted all the social, emotional, and legal rights and responsibilities of a natural child. The Court is responsible for certifying that a prospective adoptive parent is appropriate to adopt.
Although the same steps are taken, a step-parent adoption is typically less difficult than adopting a foreign child or a child from an adoption agency merely for the reason that the child will remain in the environment even if the adoption is not certified. Step-parent adoptions are the most common form of adoption. By adopting, the step-parent assumes financial and legal responsibility for his/her spouse’s child(ren), and the non-custodial parent is released from all parenting responsibilities.
The judge will review all information submitted about the adopting and placing families, and may ask questions of all parties, including the child/children if they are able to communicate their feelings and wishes. The judge will then approve or disapprove the petition to adopt. If approved, the adoption is finalized and, at the time the adoption is finalized, the child's name may be changed and a new birth certificate issued that replaces the name of the biological parents with the names of the adoptive parents and replaces the child’s birth name with his/her new name.