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  1. #1
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    Nov 2010
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    Default How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    My question involves adoption law for the State of: Virginia.

    So I have been my in "daughter's" life ever since she was born. I took a paternity test already knowing I wasn't the biological father, but was curious because there was a chance. We know who the biological father is but he doesnt even know he has this child. My wife and him had ended on a bad note before the birth and her showing, so there hasn't been much of any contact and he never seemed to add two and two together. We want me to adopt and for her to take my last name (currently she has her maiden name), but no one seem to understand that we dont want to notify the biological father. One he was very abusive and two we dont want to risk losing our daughter. She only knows me as her father, so she would be devasted if any of this surfaced. Please Help with any advice to get this long overdue milestone completed.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    Quote Quoting whtguyatnsu
    View Post
    My question involves adoption law for the State of: Virginia.

    So I have been my in "daughter's" life ever since she was born. I took a paternity test already knowing I wasn't the biological father, but was curious because there was a chance. We know who the biological father is but he doesnt even know he has this child. My wife and him had ended on a bad note before the birth and her showing, so there hasn't been much of any contact and he never seemed to add two and two together. We want me to adopt and for her to take my last name (currently she has her maiden name), but no one seem to understand that we dont want to notify the biological father. One he was very abusive and two we dont want to risk losing our daughter. She only knows me as her father, so she would be devasted if any of this surfaced. Please Help with any advice to get this long overdue milestone completed.

    He will absolutely need to be at least notified. You cannot go through with a stepparent adoption in your state without this step.

    Specially since he has no idea he actually has a child - because this means abandonment cannot be used against him.

    You should both seek counsel from a local adoption attorney, because this is NOT a DIY project.

    Nonlegal advice: Please don't lie to the child. She deserves to know her heritage and who her biological father is (if nothing else).

    There is a chance that he'll step up and wish to be a parent to his child and you ALL need to be prepared for that. You're not going to be able to pull this off behind his back.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    Dog,

    I really hate throwing this out here. I can't imagine going through life not knowing that I have a child. But, would "De Facto parenthood" or something similar be possible in this situation?

  4. #4

    Default Re: How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    It can be beneficial to your petition for adoption that you've already functioned AS a defacto parent - but doesn't change the legal fact that the child already HAS a father, and that he will need to be notified and can challenge the adoption. The court isn't going to be overly down on dad for not being involved thus far, since by your own statement, he has never even been NOTIFIED that he has a child.

    I can't imagine going through life not knowing that I have a child.
    If you don't know you have a child, there's nothing to imagine. Ignorance is bliss. It isn't until you find out that one has been there all along that you start to think about all the things you've missed out on as the child grew up without you. This is exactly what the mother has done to the father. Lots of fathers react rather negatively to such shennanigans - regardless of the reasons behind hiding the child - and for some, it only strengthens their resolve to BE parents to their children.

    Doggie is right. This isn't going to be a do-it-yourself project. Especially if the father wants to contest the adoption, seek visitation, etc. The courts simply aren't going to be party to keeping the secret, no matter how successfully the secret has been kept until now.

    As for these concerns...

    One he was very abusive and two we dont want to risk losing our daughter.
    Even without any documentation of abuse, and even IF the father establishes paternity and visitation, no court is just going to hand a child over to a stranger. Visitation would typically be supervised for a period first before allowing unsupervised time. If there is reason for the court to feel that the child could be in danger, that supervised visitation can be extended. But the presence of abuse between father and mother won't have the effect of totally cutting the father out of the child's life, if that's where he wants to be. He'll just have to enjoy his time with his child in the presence of a babysitter. As for LOSING the child, unless mom should suddenly die in a plane crash, courts don't just toss children around like rag dolls between parents just because one parent asks to have the child. Years down the line, sure, the father could potentially seek custody - but he'd have to have some basis for doing so - something in the CHILD'S life that has changed AND under circumstances where living with him would be beneficial to the child. The court isn't just going to yank the child away from mom and hand them over to dad. Doesn't work that way.
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  5. #5
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    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    Thank you everyone for your posts. The "de facto" parenthood is a good angle. I never heard of that, but will look more into it. My goal is to change her current last name(mother's maiden name) to mine and to have some sort of legal rights if ever there was a separation or death. Not that I am planning for either, but I rather cross the roads now than later. How long must we try to contact the father we dont know how to reach him? Again there hasnt been any contact between the mother and father months before the birth. What constitutes as legally trying to contact? I know the courts use newspaper ads. Besides there is no father listed on the birth certificate. Most states counts that as legal documentation. I know plenty of fathers who signs for it and later then no be the father. I just want rights without getting the "sperm donor" involved. I believe it's the woman's right to notify the father of paternity. If she chooses not to tell him so be it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How Can I Legally Adopt My Stepchild Without Biological Father's Consent

    The child's biological father will STILL need to be at least notified for a name change. If Mom genuinely doesn't know his whereabouts, she will need to serve him via publication and for this she'll ABSOLUTELY need an attorney. The rules for SvP are very strict and one slight hiccup can result in the whole thing being reversed.

    As for the rest of your post - I'm sorry, but such a woman would be doing her CHILD a grave disservice. This isn't about a woman's choice, or a father's choice - this is about the rights of a child to know where s/he comes from.

    Quote Quoting NdK1009
    View Post
    Dog,

    I really hate throwing this out here. I can't imagine going through life not knowing that I have a child. But, would "De Facto parenthood" or something similar be possible in this situation?
    Nd, it can come into play depending on State law. But more often than not, the defacto parent status only trumps legal/biological parent status when the legal/biological parent has been perfectly aware of the child's existence, has had the chance to be a parent to the child and has chosen not to do so. There are of course exceptions to this but afaik those would be far and few between.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

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