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What is a second-parent adoption?

UPDATED: February 16, 2020

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In a second parent adoption case a child who already has one parent with parental rights is adopted by another parent, without terminating the existing parental rights. For example, if Joe is already Ann's parent, and Sue wants to adopt Ann without terminating Joe's rights, then a second parent adoption would be used. In a second parent adoption, both the existing parent and the "second" parent will have legal guardianship and rights to the child. 

Uses of Second Parent Adoption

There are a number of different situations in which second parent adoption can be used: 

  • A child can be adopted by his or her stepparent with the consent of the existing legal parent or parents.  
  • A second parent adoption can be used in order for one partner in a gay or lesbian couple to adopt the other partner's child. For example, if a lesbian woman has a child through egg or sperm donation, then her partner may be able to adopt that child through second parent adoption.

A second parent adoption has a number of different steps involved, including an investigation into the fitness of the person petitioning for adoption to become the new adoptive parent of the child in question, as well as an in home study of the family's current living conditions. Second parent adoptions are becoming even more common in today’s world, however, and many courts have streamlined the process significantly.

Getting Help

In order to apply for a second parent adoption, it is essential that the proper paperwork be completed and the proper legal steps be taken. To make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible and to help ensure that the second parent will be granted parental rights without issue, it is important to hire a lawyer to assist the parties involved. 

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