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Consider the pros and cons of adopting a stepchild

The high rate of divorce and remarriage in the United States during the past few decades has created many blended families. Children with different biological parents are now living together as stepbrothers and stepsisters and it may be beneficial for stepparents to unite everyone under one legal banner.

A driving sense of family unity often starts families down the road of discussing adoption. It is a complex legal and emotionally issue that will have life-changing affects on you and your family. Here are some pros and cons to consider that may help bring your decision into focus.

Benefits of adoption

Although stepparent adoption doesn't have a physical presence like a new home or car, it does have a major affect on how the people in your family interact. Perhaps most importantly, it will have a profound effect on how you all feel toward one another. Here are some of the positives you may gain from an adoption.

  • Adoption signals a rite of passage for your family. It's very much like turning 18 years old, getting married, taking Communion or having a Bar Mitzvah. It demonstrates to your friends and loved ones that you are a member of a group, both emotionally and legally. That sense of belonging can be very powerful and help bind a family together.
  • In terms of sibling rivalries, adoption makes everyone equal. It demonstrates that both parents fully accept all of children in the family as their own and that biology is a secondary consideration.
  • For children who have lost a bioparent, stepparent adoption doesn't replace the loved one they lost. But, it does add to a sense of having two adults that are fully committed to them.
  • Financially, stepparent adoption can provide the child with legal protections for future inheritances and other benefits.

Potential negatives of adoption

Like any major life decisions, it's important to weigh the pros against the cons before deciding what's in the best interest of you and your family. Here are some of the drawbacks to moving forward with an adoption.

  • Adoption is often seen as a way to unify a family. However, if the marriage isn't fully stable, adopting a child could end up dragging him or her through a divorce and custody battle can cause unnecessary emotional trauma.
  • If the child's other biological parent contests the adoption, this could lead to ugly litigation that may impact the minor.

Adoption is a life-altering event that affects every member of your family in different ways. If you believe that adoption is the healthiest option for you, you may benefit from seeking the legal guidance of an experienced family law attorney. A professional will be able to help you sort out the best course of action for your unique situation.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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