When it comes to adoption, keep in mind that Colorado, like most states, always has the child’s best interests in mind and the primary objective is to reunite the child with his/her biological family when possible. If this is not possible then the goal is to find a permanent home for the child. These Colorado adoption statistics below show the steady decrease of the total number of adoptions in the state of Colorado:
Above Adoption Statistics Found Here.
Given this overall principle, a stepparent adoption is easier to complete than other types of adoption, because some steps in the process may be waived or streamlined. In fact, adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption.
Steps in the Adoption Process:
1. Learning the State’s Adoption Laws
Stepparent adoption, like all other forms of adoption in the United States, is governed
by State law and since each State will vary you may want to hire an adoption attorney who will know your State’s adoption laws. To learn more on your own the Colorado Judicial Branch website provides information, instructions, and forms. You can also contact your county’s Adoption Coordinator to help you through the process or contact the court that handles adoptions in your county directly. Ask for an information packet on stepparent adoptions.
2. Background Check
Before you can file for adoption, the parent wanting to adopt the child must submit to an Arrest Record check. You can contact your local law enforcement office to get the check done.
3. Gather and Submit Legal Forms
In order to file for adoption, you must complete the required forms. If you have an attorney he/she will complete this step for you. The forms can be found on the Colorado Judicial Branch website. They will vary depending upon whether all parties are identified, can be found and agree to the adoption.
4. Consent to Adoption
Sometimes the most troublesome part of the adoption process is getting consent from all parties involved. In all stepparent adoptions, the non-custodial legal parent will need to consent to the adoption. If this other birth parent refuses to consent, State laws may prevent the adoption from taking place unless that parent’s rights are terminated for some other reason such as abandonment, unfitness, lack of communication for a period of time between the child and that parent, or failure to support the child. Depending on the rules of the court the consent may be given with a written statement or the parent may need to appear in court before the judge or file papers with the court. Just make sure you follow the law to the letter in order to obtain proper consent so the adoption cannot be overturned at a later date by the non-custodial parent. In addition, depending upon the age of the child he/she must also consent to being adopted by his or her stepparent.
5. File a Petition
After you have done the Arrest Record check and completed the required forms, you must file a Petition in the county where you live.
6. Wait for Notification of Court Date
The adoption hearing court date will be set by the court after you have filed your Petition and submit the required forms. Depending on the court’s schedule this could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Either you or your attorney will receive notice of the hearing date by mail.
7. Go to the Preliminary Hearing
You and your child will probably be required to go to this hearing, although in stepparent adoptions, this preliminary hearing often is waived. During this hearing the judge or magistrate will question the parties involved including the child if he/she is old enough to be required to give consent. Your attorney should prepare you for this hearing by giving you more information about what to expect. At the end of this hearing, the judge will set a date for the finalization of the adoption.
8. Finalize the Adoption
For a period of time after the first adoption hearing, the court may order periodic visits by a social worker to verify that all members of the family are adjusting well to the adoption. A final adoption hearing is then scheduled which may be a few months (or longer) after the first hearing. At this second hearing an adoption Certificate and/or Order is issued; the certificate will list the stepparent as the legal parent of the child and the child’s new name if the adoption petition requested a name change. Adoption certificates are issued at this hearing.
9. Apply for the Amended Birth Certificates
The court will order the amended birth certificate after the judge signs the Final Decree of Adoption. The Report of Adoption form will be sent by the courts to the Bureau of Vital Records and when the birth certificate is ready, it will be sent to you
According to some organizations like, the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, have came out with studies that report stepparent adoption as the most common form of adoption in many countries. It is not only the legal steps that need to be considered in a stepparent adoption. The emotional impact of the adoption on the child also needs to be considered. Generally, the less contact a child has with the non-custodial parent, the more sense it makes to do a stepparent adoption and the less impact it may have on the child. But, regardless, counseling should always be considered.