Adoption by Stepparent or Relative
In some cases, a stepparent may wish to formally adopt his or her stepchild and raise the child as if they were biologically related. In other cases, a family member may wish to adopt a child that he or she is already related to in order to legally establish a parent-child relationship. These special adoptions can have numerous benefits for both the prospective adoptive parent and the adoptee.
Under South Carolina law, a person can adopt his or her spouse’s child. Additionally, any person can adopt a child that he or she is related to by birth or marriage. In these types of adoptions, there may be fewer requirements that the adoptive parents must abide by. For example, ordinarily, the final adoption hearing cannot be held less than 90 days after the filing of the petition for adoption. But, for adoptions by a stepparent or family member, this requirement can be waived.
The petition for adoptions specifies several pieces of information, including, but not limited to:
Name, age, and address of each petitioner (person seeking to adopt)
Date and place of birth of the child
Any facts that would excuse acquiring the consent of the biological parent to the adoption
Any relationship that either petitioner has to the child
Further, unless deemed necessary by the court, the normal pre-placement and background investigations and reports are not required. These investigations are completed prior to the final hearing.
The pre-placement investigation examines:
Whether the home of the prospective parents is suitable for the child
The emotional maturity, finances, and health of the prospective parents
Whether the parents have ever been involved in a proceeding related to neglect, abandonment, or abuse of a child
Anything else that would assist the court in deciding whether the adoption should be approved
The background investigation describes the medical history of the child’s biological family, as well as the medical and developmental history of the child.
Why Adopt a Relative?
The thought of a person adopting a child that he or she is already related to in some way may seem strange at first, but it is not completely uncommon. Formally adopting a child can help resolve issues that may arise from not having a legal parent-child relationship. A person may want to adopt a related child for the following reasons:
Death of the child’s parent
The child was abandoned, abused, or neglected
The parent had the child as a teenager and could not (or refused to) provide adequate care for the child
Parent is incarcerated
Substance abuse by parents
Often, when the parents are unable to care for and raise the child, a family member may wish to adopt the child in order to provide a more stable environment to grow up in. Frequently, these types of adoptions are easier to complete than regular adoptions, particularly since courts will attempt to keep children with family members whenever possible.
Help with Family Law Issues
If you would like more information about the adoption process, contact an experienced South Carolina family law attorney today. At the Surasky Law Firm, we will work passionately on your behalf and we look forward to discussing how we can help.