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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Southeast Kentucky
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    Default My Husband Wants to Adopt My Children

    My question involves adoption law for the State of: Kentucky

    I have been reading about other situations of stepparents adopting their step children, but I haven't seen anything that really applies to my situation.

    I have been married to my husband for nearly 2 years. We have a child together, and I have 2 sons from 2 previous relationships. My boys do not receive child support from either parent. The oldest of the 2 is 9 and hasn't seen his father in 5 years. Before I met my husband, I had attempted to have my ex's parental rights terminated (he had abandoned him at that time, and is a serious threat to myself and my son). At the same time, he filed for visitation of my son (out of pure spite). While the court did not terminate his rights, they also refused to give my ex visitation. My middle son, who is 5, was born the year after. His father got put in prison, and only saw him 3 times in his life, through glass. My son was 6 weeks old the last time I allowed the father to see him. When the boy was around 8 weeks old, we split up. When my son was 1, he was released from prison. We saw him out 2 years after his release, and he made no attempt to even acknowledge the kid. No offer has been made for any sort of assistance to the boy, no birthday cards, not even a letter. The ex's sister has also seen us out and wouldn't even talk to my son. Both boys have their biological father listed on their birth certificates.

    Fast forward to now - my husband and I got married and had our baby girl. He loves both of my boys as if he were their real father (he even claims them as his), and they love him equally and they call him daddy (because he is the only daddy they have ever known). My husband fully supports and wants to adopt both of them, although we know that if we would make the attempt to contact the oldest boy's father, he would cause problems for us and could eventually lead to him seeing my son. I do not want this at all, because he is dangerous. My middle son's father has other kids that he doesn't see, and obviously does not care about not seeing him. He might be easier convinced to terminate his rights under the threat of having to pay child support if he doesn't.

    Would I legally be able to give him this ultimatum to sign away his rights? If so, how much would it cost for my husband to adopt my middle son sometime in the future? The oldest we will have to wait a little while on, perhaps when he is old enough to make the decision for himself to want my husband to adopt him (if the child has any sort of say in the situation). We don't have much money, my husband doesn't make very much at his job and I am a full time college student. Is there some sort of legal aid that would help us do this? Anything you could tell me would be VERY much appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: My Husband Wants to Adopt My Children

    It's a common misunderstanding that a parent can sign away rights. They can't. Parents get to choose whether or not they exercise their parental rights, and the courts can enforce any parental responsibilities that have been established, like child support. But such processes are only a TINY bit about the parent - what the courts look out for is the CHILD'S RIGHT to have TWO parents - and it takes a JUDGE to terminate that right of the child, even if both parents are willing to cut one out of the picture. If a parent is willing to cooperate, and supports step-parent adoption, that makes the process much easier. If the parent wants to challenge the adoption, they have every legal right to do so. However, given that the one problematic parent in question has already been denied visitation, it isn't a big leap to expect the court to involuntarily terminate his parental rights in conjunction with step-parent adoption. It's the step-parent adoption that is the key. Courts want there to be TWO parental figures who are legally responsible for a child. Even if the court won't give him visitation, they DO have him on the hook if you get hit by a bus as being next in line to take care of the child, and, he's still on the table as a potential source of child support payments, even if child support isn't in play right now. So if there is a step-parent who is ready, willing, and able to step in as the new parent, the court is MUCH more likely to entertain terminating the biological parent's rights and responsibilities, even against that parent's wishes. Without that adoption step occurring at the same time, the process becomes MUCH harder, longer, and exponentially more expensive to fight it through the courts. Legal aid in most places these days are overwhelmed, and typically only take on family law matters where there is active domestic violence playing a role. You can always ask, but don't get your hopes up. If you have a law school in your community, see if they have assistance programs (students overseen by licensed attorneys are often encouraged to provide assistance).
    Catherine NeSmith
    Executive Director
    AARDVARC.org, Inc.
    http://www.aardvarc.org

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