You will be required to file a Petition for Adoption and submit it to the Circuit Court in the county in which you reside. If the natural parent files a consent form, this makes the process easier, since the court knows that the natural parent approves of the adoption. Otherwise, it will be up to the stepparent to provide legal proof that the natural parent is deceased, has deserted the child, has been declared legally incompetent or the parent’s whereabouts are unknown. If a child is age twelve or older, the court must also interview the child to obtain his or her permission for the adoption. Once the documents are filed, a hearing date will be set to finalize the adoption.
If the adoption is approved by the court, the child will receive a new birth certificate with the child’s new name on it and the adopted parents name on it as well. All rights and responsibilities of the natural parent will be terminated at the time the stepparent adoption is finalized and the stepparent will have the same rights and responsibilities as a natural parent.