Technically, your stepchildren become a part of your family the moment you marry their parent. While they may not be your biological children, you will probably still feel responsible for providing for them financially.
Additionally, you will most likely provide your spouse with practical support in the form of childcare, transportation and other parenting obligations. Stepparents often fulfill all of the same obligations as biological or adoptive parents without any of the recognition or respect from their communities.
If you have become very attached to your stepchildren, it may be the appropriate time to start considering adopting them so that you are their legal parent. What are the most common reasons that stepparents choose to adopt their stepchildren?
To protect their relationship
Maybe your spouse just received a diagnosis of cancer, and you worry about the children ending up in the custody of an uninvolved or negligent parent if treatment isn’t successful. Perhaps you hope your marriage will last forever but worry about losing your relationship with the children if you ever divorce.
A stepparent adoption will give you the same legal rights as a biological parent, thus allowing you to take care of the children if your spouse dies or to ask for shared custody in the event of a divorce.
To give the children a sense of stability
Having an uninvolved parent can cause serious mental health issues in children. Their sense of abandonment can affect their self-esteem and even their school performance. When you step up into a parental role, you let your stepchildren know that they are loved and wanted. You can replace a parent who has failed to give the children the emotional connection and social support that they require.
To give your whole family access to more protection
From the right to benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit to eligibility for your health insurance coverage through your employer, there are numerous benefits and protections that stepchildren may struggle to access.
Adoptive children have the same rights as biological children when it comes to inheritance or pursuing civil claims in court. By officially adding your stepchildren to your family, you can better meet their needs now and offer them more protection if something happens to you in the future.
Talking with your spouse and the rest of the family about a stepparent adoption could lead to some positive growth for your entire family unit.