Legally adding a new member to your family can be a complex and very stressful process. There are certain rules that apply to almost every adoption in Iowa.
The person hoping to adopt typically needs to be a legal adult and must be able to pass a background check. They also need to have stable financial circumstances. The ability to provide the basic needs for the child is important, as is the parenting skill to handle the challenges that often come with adoption.
Stepparent adoptions are among the most common adoptions that occur in Iowa. Stepparents already live with and support the child they want to adopt in most cases. Still, stepparent adoptions typically require an additional step that many other adoptions do not.
You must have the other parent approve the adoption
Multiple forms of approval are necessary for a stepparent adoption. Typically, your spouse needs to approve of your desire to adopt, and the courts will need to approve and finalize your request. You also require the approval of the other parent of the child.
There are a few situations in which their approval is not necessary. If the other parent has already died, then paperwork from them is not necessary. The same is true in a situation where the state has already terminated their parental rights due to accusations of abuse or neglect.
Unless one of those two situations applies, you will typically need to have the other parent of the child you hope to adopt sign state paperwork. They will need to voluntarily terminate their parental rights so that you can then officially adopt.
How do you convince someone to give up their rights?
If someone is already in state custody or has not had parents in time with their children in months, they might recognize that giving up their parental rights will give their child more support and more opportunities. Others might find the idea of no longer needing to pay child support to be a compelling reason to sign the documents.
If they will not voluntarily give up their parental rights, then you may need to reconsider your plans. Involuntary termination is sometimes an option but can be traumatic for the people involved. Understanding the rules that apply to Iowa stepparent adoptions can help you fill a more permanent role in the life of your stepchild.