You may have taken care of your stepchild their entire life at this point, but you still aren’t technically in possession of all the same rights as their biological parent. After discussing the situation with your spouse, you may have decided together that adopting your stepchild would be a good option.
If you go through with the application to adopt, remember that you will need to meet specific requirements to do so. Those include being a resident in the state for at least six months and having the permission of both biological parents. In some cases, your stepchild will need to agree as well.
At what age can a stepchild refuse to be adopted by a stepparent?
In Oregon, your stepchild can begin making decisions about who they want as an adoptive parent at 14 years of age. That means that if your stepchild is under that age now, you can begin the process without their input. Once they reach the age of 14, the court will require that they give their written consent to be adopted.
The reason for this is important. Once they are adopted, their former biological parent will no longer be a part of their life legally. While you and the other parents may agree to allow them to see their child on and off, they won’t have any legal standing in being a parent any longer. Their parental rights will be terminated.
Your teen stepchild needs to agree, so have a discussion
You should talk to your stepchild about the adoption regardless of their age, but you absolutely need their agreement if they are 14 or older. It’s helpful if you and their other parent(s) sit down together to talk about the adoption, what it means for them and the benefits and downsides. While you may want to push them towards agreeing, it’s fair to give them all the information and to allow them to decide on what they think they’d like to do at that time. If they choose not to be adopted now, you have the option of adopting them any time in the future if they change their mind, even once they’re an adult.