When two people decide to get married, they make a commitment to love each other and begin a new life as a family. The same is true in a step parent adoption. When a man marries a woman (or vice versa) that already has a child, that man may decide to officially adopt his step child, taking on all the rights and responsibilities it encompasses.
Though typically an uncomplicated process, the step parent adoption does have certain requirements that must be met. If a man is adopting his new step child, the birth father must concede and give up his biological rights. The only exception would be in the case of the biological parent being found unfit. Even in cases where the parent has been absent for a while, there must still be a reasonable attempt to locate the parent and give him or her the opportunity to object to the adoption and maintain parental rights. What is considered reasonable and other requirements should be discussed with a family law attorney.
Once all parties are in agreement, a hearing can take place in family court. When it is finalized, the adopting parent (in this example, the father) will be the legal parent of the child. As far as the law is concerned, he now has every right to the child as the mother. If she should pass on, the child would be given to the adopted father automatically. The adopted parent would be expected to care and provide for the child – including making medical decisions. And in the event of a divorce, the adopted parent could obtain custody and visitation rights as well.