If you are looking to adopt your step child, there are 4 steps you’ll need to take: (1) do your research, (2) get consent, (3) fill out paperwork, and (4) attend a hearing.
Do your research
Does the child already have two living parents? Do both parents have legal rights to the child? If the other parent is a male, what category of fatherhood is he, do you need to inform him of the adoption, and will he need to consent to the adoption?
To find the answers, talk to your spouse, read the The Myth of Fatherhood, search the Minnesota Father*s Adoption Registry, and ask a lawyer if you*re not sure.
You will need the written, signed, and notarized consent to adoption by your stepchild if they are 14 years or older. If the other parent is male and is either an adjudicated father or a presumed father, then he will need to consent. If the other parent is female, then you will need her consent to the adoption unless her parental rights have already been court terminated.
As part of getting the other parent's consent, you should consider whether to enter into a Communication and Contact Agreement with that parent. This agreement address if, when, and how the other parent will be in contact with your stepchild, your spouse, and you.
Fill out paperwork
If the other parent gives consent to the adoption or if they are not required to consent, then you can file with the court for Uncontested Stepparent Adoption. The Minnesota Court Website provides a number of adoption document forms that you will need to submit. Depending on your case, you might not need to fill out all of the paperwork, or you might want to provide the court with additional information. If you*re not sure which forms to fill out, ask a lawyer.
In addition, you will need a certified copy of the child's birth certificate, a certification that you searched the Minnesota Fathers* Adoption Registry, and the results of the search.
Attend a hearing
Once you have gathered all the documents and filled out the forms, you can then file the case with the court's clerk who will give you a hearing date. At the hearing, the Judge will ask you about the paperwork, make sure you understand the rights and responsibilities of being the legal parent, and, upon finding that an adoption is in the best interest of the child, will then sign an order declaring you the parent. While the process sounds simple, keep in mind that unexpected problems might arise, such as discovering a biological father through the registry who decides to establish his paternity. Simply filing for adoption does not guarantee one.
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