Step-Parent Adoption

What do you need to know if you are step-parent looking to adopt your step-child? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Will Waller, Program Director at Jockey Being Family Foundation, and Dr. Susan Branco, Licensed Professional Counselor and Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Training at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Washington, DC.

Hit the Highlights
  • Adopting a stepchild is the most common type of adoption, It’s been estimated that over 100,000 stepchildren are adopted by their stepparent each year.
  • There are definitely legal issues to consider with stepparent adoption, but we are going to focus on the emotional issues.
  • Step-parent adoption is like the “stepchild of the adoption world.” Negative social stereotypes associated with stepparents and the role of stepchildren. How do these stereotypes impact stepfamilies?
  • We assume that because the child is being raised by one parent with a genetic connection that step-parent adoption does not share much of the emotional issues as does “regular” adoption where the child is being raised by a parent or parents with no genetic connection. Is this true?
  • Similarities and differences between stepparent adoption and traditional adoption.
  • How does the age of the child at the adoption impact the adoption?
  • How can parents handle the issue of divided loyalties?
  • How does being adopted by a stepparent alter a child’s sense of identity? What can parents do to help?
  • How to handle jealousy issues with the adopted child towards the biological child in the family?
  • What are some of the stresses when both parents bring kids to the marriage?
  • What are some of the issues parents should consider when trying to decide whether to the stepparent should adopt the stepchild?
  • Changing family roles when a stepparent adopts his partner’s child. What can parents do to help other family members adjust to the change?
  • Openness in stepparent adoption. Is openness common in stepparent adoptions?
  • How to best handle relationships with step-grandparents and other extended family members.

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Image Credit: Nick Wasch (via Tess Dixon)