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Old 12-12-2012, 03:09 PM
 
Location: Westminster, CO
904 posts, read 1,166,785 times
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In August I married my wife. She has a three-year old daughter. The father is not part of her life and lives in another state. In the two years I've known my wife, the father has seen his daughter twice. Once when we took her to visit her grandparents, and once when he had to come to town for work. He did start "paying" child support when he got a job and the state started garnishing his paycheck.

I would very much like to adopt her. I'm the only father she's ever known, but I'm not really sure where to even start. Is it even possible to adopt a child without the father's approval? Given his lack of contact what would a judge be willing to terminate his parental rights?

Thanks for any input you might have.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:25 PM
 
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No you can't adopt her with his parental rights still intact. He would voluntarily have to give up any and all rights including support, and her rights to him OR you would have to prove abandonment and if he is paying support he has not abandoned his child.

I highly doubt that a judge would grant the petition to adopt based on the length of your marriage, regardless of how long your relationship is. Adoption is a HUGE commitment and even if you divorce you are still the legal father and would have to support the child, emotionally, physically, and financially.

Why do you want to adopt?
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:21 PM
 
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He might voluntarily give up his parental rights and duties because he would no longer be obligated to pay child support but since he is paying child support, he hasn't really abandoned her even if child support is forced.

The advantages is that everyone in the family can have the same last name, she would be your daughter and if you have other children, she won't have feel that she doesn't have a dad that wants to see her but the other kids have a dad.

The disadvantages to you would be you'd be paying child support if you were to divorce.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:42 PM
 
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He needs to consent except in certain circumstances - jail, abandonment, abuse. In some states grandparents also need to be notified.

To me, there are lots of personal reasons - some not so great- that I would really think about - I wouldn't ever want to be accused down the road of cutting the ties to a father, even a disinterested one. And, if you decide to go ahead, I would bend over backwards to have it done in as an amicable a way possible, and to make it very easy for her father & relatives to continue relationships with her if they want to. Why? because there is 1 really good reason for step parent adoption - that is the possibility, heaven forbid, of something happening to her mother. Without the adoption, as a step parent you would have no legal standing. Her father would have sole custody.

Hopefully despite her father's seeming disinterest, her mother and you have remained cordial etc., as not having an antagonistic relationship would make it easier for everyone who will wind up being involved in this to focus on your stepdaughter's best interest.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:47 AM
 
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That's a good point -- you don't want to be seen as someone who forced the poor dear old dad out of the picture.

And it's another good point about the custody of the child at some later point.

The child support may be the negotiating point. If he prefers to give up custody so he doesn't have to provide support, he's not much of a father in the first place.
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:22 PM
 
Location: The New England part of Ohio
18,678 posts, read 23,263,761 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhacer View Post
In August I married my wife. She has a three-year old daughter. The father is not part of her life and lives in another state. In the two years I've known my wife, the father has seen his daughter twice. Once when we took her to visit her grandparents, and once when he had to come to town for work. He did start "paying" child support when he got a job and the state started garnishing his paycheck.

I would very much like to adopt her. I'm the only father she's ever known, but I'm not really sure where to even start. Is it even possible to adopt a child without the father's approval? Given his lack of contact what would a judge be willing to terminate his parental rights?

Thanks for any input you might have.
I believe that in most states he needs to consent - no matter how out of the picture he has been. I also know that you need to under go a home study, just as you would if you were adopting a child who you have never met.

I would consult an adoption lawyer in your state.

Best of luck!
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:12 AM
 
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Find out the legal ramifications for her though. It will (probably) cause her original birth certificate to be sealed and will mean she will spend her life using an ammended birth certificate. Of course, her mom would have a the original, so she would still be able to see it. It's still something to consider though. I do think the issue of custody in case something tragic happens to mom is worth looking into. I don't know if that could be addressed through a will or through legal guardianship? No idea. I don't know...she's only three...there is still time for her father to become involved, and you can still be a great dad to her. I'm not sure I'd push it, but of ocurse that's not for me to decide.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:24 AM
 
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I agree with consulting a lawyer and determining how custody would work. This is really morbid, but you should also investigate if the mother was sick or in a coma, you might ask how you could be able to be the guardian for the child.

It's not for anyone here to determine if adoption is best in your case, but I would think you have several paths to accomplishing the end result of being more permanently tied to this child. Adoption is a more extreme path, but we also don't know the situation with the father. Still, try to think of the child and of someday she would like to build a relationship with her dad. Remember that there are so many kinds of blended families, and she will love you and appreciate you regardless of your legal standing

My best friend considers his stepdad (who is actually not even still married to his mom) to be his dad. He calls his bio dad by his first name and has little contact with him. So, often children make up their own minds based on the person who is there for them and provides love and support.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Westminster, CO
904 posts, read 1,166,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nj185 View Post
He needs to consent except in certain circumstances - jail, abandonment, abuse. In some states grandparents also need to be notified.

To me, there are lots of personal reasons - some not so great- that I would really think about - I wouldn't ever want to be accused down the road of cutting the ties to a father, even a disinterested one. And, if you decide to go ahead, I would bend over backwards to have it done in as an amicable a way possible, and to make it very easy for her father & relatives to continue relationships with her if they want to. Why? because there is 1 really good reason for step parent adoption - that is the possibility, heaven forbid, of something happening to her mother. Without the adoption, as a step parent you would have no legal standing. Her father would have sole custody.

Hopefully despite her father's seeming disinterest, her mother and you have remained cordial etc., as not having an antagonistic relationship would make it easier for everyone who will wind up being involved in this to focus on your stepdaughter's best interest.
Believe me, as much as we dislike him, we fully plan on letting her know that I am not her birth father. Nor would we ever prevent her from seeing him or vice-versa, completely to avoid the problem of her getting angry about "not-knowing."

When we took her out to Utah and Montana it was to see her grandparents. They get school pictures, and letters from her (we don't believe that the grand parents should be punished because their son is a douche-nozzle). They send her gifts for her birthday and Christmas (more than her father does).
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Westminster, CO
904 posts, read 1,166,785 times
Reputation: 1245
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
I believe that in most states he needs to consent - no matter how out of the picture he has been. I also know that you need to under go a home study, just as you would if you were adopting a child who you have never met.

I would consult an adoption lawyer in your state.

Best of luck!
Thanks Sheena, we will be talking to a lawyer. I've already raised three teenage sons, so I'm not worried about a home study or anything like that.
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