There are thousands of blended families with underage children in Tennessee. Plenty of stepparents fill a paternal role in the lives of children to whom they technically have no legal obligations. Many of the stepparents currently living with stepchildren in Tennessee may eventually decide that they want to adopt their stepchildren.
Stepparent adoption can be a complicated process involving bureaucratic paperwork and court hearings. Some people scoff at the idea of adopting a child who already lives in their home and is being properly provided for. However, there are some very valuable benefits that result from a stepparent adoption that may be worth considering. Here are some of the more common reasons people choose to make their stepparent parenting relationship official.
1. They want custody rights
Technically, Tennessee does sometimes grant visitation access to a stepparent who divorces their spouse. However, if someone wants a say in a child’s upbringing and full shared custody, stepparent adoption is the best way of ensuring they have a right to claim parenting time and parental responsibility if they divorce.
2. They worry about their spouse’s health
A stepparent may have been part of a child’s life since before they ever entered the world. They may have cared for a pregnant parent and later married that individual, and their employment, emotional support and presence have been an ongoing source of support for the child in the family their entire life.
However, if the biological parent of the child were to die, the stepparent would technically not have rights, especially if the other biological parent is still alive. The best way to ensure the stepparent can retain custody when the biological parent dies is often a stepparent adoption.
3. They want to give the child more security
Only having one parent who is consistently present can be a hardship for a child. Even if they occasionally see or know about their other parent, going through life with only one parent leaves them one accident away from being totally alone.
A stepparent adoption lets a child know that there is another adult who will assume responsibility for them and support them no matter what. It can also serve as a means by which a stepparent can confirm to a child that they are valued part of a family, not merely an afterthought. Recognizing the numerous benefits derived from stepparent adoption can inspire some people to begin this complicated but often worthwhile process.