If you’re a stepparent in Michigan, it’s not unusual for you to form a strong parental bond with the children of your spouse. In fact, your love for your stepchildren could be so strong that you decide to adopt them.

Regarding stepparent adoption, however, does the other biological parent have to agree to the adoption? What else should you know about this process?

Does the other biological parent have to agree to a stepparent adoption?

Both birth parents must agree to your wish to adopt your stepchildren. If you’re considering adoption, then your spouse is probably already in agreement for you to adopt. However, the other birth parent — if he or she still has parental rights — will be able to object and prevent your adoption from moving forward. As such, your first order of business will be to gain the permission of the other parent.

In some cases, the other parent may see the wisdom in allowing you to adopt, especially if you’ve shown your commitment and support to the children as a parent. More commonly, though, the other parent will refuse to approve of the stepparent adoption because he or she will essentially be giving up all of his or her parental rights in doing so. In these situations, legal action may be required to terminate the other parent’s rights as a parent.

Terminating the other parent’s parental rights

As long as the other birth parent has been present in the children’s lives and has financially supported them, it could be difficult to terminate his or her parental rights. However, in a large number of stepparent adoption cases, the wish to adopt is born out of the fact that the other parent is unfit to serve as a parent, has abandoned the children, has neglected the children or has failed to pay child support. In these situations, an action to terminate the other parent’s parental rights could be successful.

Are your ready to move forward with a stepparent adoption?

Every stepparent adoption scenario is different. In some cases, the process will be straightforward and easy, and in other cases, it will be next to impossible to gain approval from a family law court. As such, it’s always important to fully understand your adoption rights and the law before moving forward with a stepparent adoption.