You and your wife married when your stepdaughter was four years old. As she has grown, you have treated her like your own child, showing up to practices, taking her to dance recitals and escorting her to daddy-daughter dances.
She is now 12, and you and your wife have spoken about you legally adopting her. This is a step you want to take to bond the two of you together should anything happen to her mother. Before starting the adoption process, you may want to take some time to familiarize yourself with how the process may go.
Your stepdaughter has a say
Your stepdaughter is of the age where the court will take her wishes into account. Therefore, if you plan on adopting her without her knowledge or consent, think again. A California court will likely ask her if she wants this action to happen.
You must fit certain requirements
In order to proceed with the adoption process, you and your wife must go through an interview and perhaps even a home study. During this time, a person will come in and examine the home inside and out, noting things such as food supply, number of bedrooms and overall cleanliness of the place. A third party will interview you, your wife and your stepdaughter separately. He or she will prepare a report that goes to the judge.
The biological father may have to agree
Do not forget that your stepdaughter has a father out there, and he is going to have to consent to this adoption. In some cases, this is an easier task than in others. If the father has not come around for over a year and not paid child support, a judge may not require consent. If the father does not agree, all hope is not lost. You have to prepare yourself for a lengthier adoption process.
Adopting your stepdaughter can have far-reaching legal and emotional consequences. It gives her a sense of permanency and you a sense of peace.