Sometimes, especially when a child’s biological parent is not in the picture, the child’s stepparent will step in and provide the child with the parental love and support any child needs. Sometimes the parties wish to make this parent-child relationship formal through stepparent adoption. One issue that does come up in a stepparent adoption is the issue of consent.

In general, in Pennsylvania, the biological parent of a child who has not yet turned 18 needs to consent to a stepparent adoption. In addition, if the child is age 12 or above, the child must consent to being adopted. However, there are a number of situations in which parental consent is not needed for an adoption.

The first such example is if the child is younger than 18 and his or her biological parents are not alive. Consent is also not necessary if the biological parent’s rights have been terminated. A parent’s rights with regard to his or her biological child will be terminated the parent failed to fulfill his or her parental duties, if abuse or neglect is present and repeated, if the parent is unknown or cannot be found for three months and in other circumstances.

In Pennsylvania, if a stepparent wishes to adopt their spouse’s child, this may be permissible if either the stepparent or biological parent (depending on the situation) submits a petition with the court to relinquish consent. A hearing will then be held to confirm the parties’ consent to the adoption.

Stepparents can play a vital and positive role in a child’s life. When a child’s biological parent doesn’t take an active role, a stepparent can be the supportive and nurturing parent a child needs. But, there are numerous steps in the stepparent adoption process. This post provides general information on consent and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Therefore, those who want more information on stepparent adoption may benefit from seeking legal guidance on the matter, so they can understand what needs to be done for their specific situation.