Stepchild adoption is a wonderful way to cement relationships that are already intimate by nature. Stepparents choose to be part of a family where they have no legal rights when it comes to the children in their care. They are unable to sign permission slips, and yet will chaperone field trips. They are unable to approve medical care, but take care of ailing children of their partner’s as if they were made of their own biological flesh and blood. They are often the cool head and logical outsider when biological parents are struggling, and the listening ear to their stepchildren whenever called upon. Stepparents are individuals who choose to be part of a blended family dynamic. I’ve heard many refer to their stepkids not as ‘step’ children, but as ‘bonus’ children. Instead of seeing children as their partner’s ‘baggage,’ they see these children as just ‘family.’ And that is pretty remarkable.
If at some point, one biological parent has stepped completely out of the picture or terminated rights, stepparent adoption becomes pretty straight forward, and a great way to cement that family bond–as well as giving the stepparent legal rights to make decisions on behalf of the children. It takes away the ‘step’ part of parenting, and simplifies the title to just ‘mom’ or ‘dad.’ For many stepparents, that would be a dream come true, even if that comes long after the childhood years.
Asking a stepparent to adopt you can be a fun endeavor, especially if you know that the biological parent has terminated rights, or if you are over 18 years old. You can take a cue from any other gift-giving occasion. Odds are, you already have the kind of relationship with your stepparent that makes you want to be their legal child, then they will likely already welcome the gift any way you choose to propose the idea.
Try filling a box with photos and slips of paper recalling great memories of all of you as a family–including one page at the bottom that says, “Will you adopt me?” It can be as a grand a gesture as doing it with family and friends around a holiday or birthday. Or you could make it as intimate as sliding an envelope across the table at a coffee shop that includes a card with a photo of a favorite memory with the words “Will you adopt me?” on the inside.
The prospect can be overwhelming, but try to have fun with it. (Keep in mind, there may be legal details to hammer out afterwards, especially if one biological parent has not yet terminated rights and you’re under 18. But asking can often start the process.) This person as been there for you emotionally, physically, and often financially. There is a lot of love there already. Why not make it official?