Are you in a relationship with another individual and helping to raise a child that is not yours? If so, you have stepped up and should be applauded for being a parent to this child. Whether the child is biologically yours or not is irrelevant. You believe you are this child’s parent and, if they do not know or have a relationship with their biological Mother or Father, you are likely the only Mother or Father this child knows.
Most people in this situation do not consider adopting the child because they do not feel it is necessary. You may feel like you are raising the child and everyone, including the child, believes he/she is yours and you don’t need a piece of paper telling you that you are the child’s parent. You established this title all on your own. While this may be true, there are few circumstances more satisfying than being a witness to a successful adoption. Making this bond official has tremendous benefits for you legally and emotionally. It certifies your commitment to this child and will forever galvanize your love and dedication to them.
So, what if you never adopt the child and you and the child’s natural parent dissolve your relationship? What happens? Well if you and the other parent never marry and you never hold this child out as your own, then you are left with very few options. While we all hope the other parent would recognize the bond you have with this child and the negative effects of ending the child’s relationship with you, there is no guarantee said parent will attempt preserve the relationship. If you have never established a legal relationship with the child then the other parent holds most, if not all, of the cards and can completely shut you out of the child’s life. If you haven’t considered adopting the child, you and the other parent should give serious consideration to formally adopting the child. It establishes a proper legal relationship between you and the child and will help make your family a more cohesive unit.
Additionally, if circumstances change in the future and your relationship with your partner dissolves, you will be the legal parent of the child with established and protected rights; and can continue to be part of his/her life even after your relationship with his/her biological parent ends.
If you are interested in pursuing an adoption or have questions about the process we are here to help. Please contact the Law Firm of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.