As most blended families in Illinois can attest, being a dedicated, loving parent does not necessarily require a biological connection. Many stepparents develop a deep and loving bond with their stepchildren, and this relationship can be made even more profound through a successful adoption. Of course if their biological mother or father is still an active and present role model in the child’s life, this option might not be ideal. However, for those without the frequent contact of one biological parent, a stepparent adoption can be life changing.

Even though the best interests of the child are usually at the heart of stepparent adoptions, these proceedings should not violate any existing rights of a biological parent. Biological parents can and do make challenges to some proceedings, which can be understandably upsetting for those hoping to finalize the adoption. However, if necessary, a biological parent’s rights can be terminated in appropriate circumstances.

The termination of parental rights is not treated lightly by the courts, and there usually must be compelling evidence behind this move. The court might consider if a biological parent has been abusive or if he or she has any serious or troubling mental or emotional states, although all of these factors will be looked at from the perspective of whatever is in the child’s best interests. If parental rights are successfully terminated, a stepparent adoption may move forward.

No two families in Illinois look alike, but the protections afforded to a legal parent of a child — such as the ability to make medical decisions — can be profound and life changing. We understand how important it can be to make a parent-child relationship official and legal, which is why we use our background in family law to help our clients navigate the sometimes confusing world of stepparent adoption. If your family is considering a stepparent adoption, more information can be found on our website.