Families come in all shapes and sizes in Tennessee, and one of the best things is that family is not defined by blood relation. If you marry someone who has children, you become a stepparent, but perhaps stepparent is not the title you want. If the situation allows, there may be the ability for you to adopt your stepchildren and become their legal parent.

Stepparent adoption is not just about being a real parent to your children. It is about the legal benefits that you and they gain from it. If you are considering a stepparent adoption, there are some things that you need to know. Parents.com explains that the process may be simple, but some stepparent adoptions may be more complicated, so you need to be ready for anything. Here are three main things to keep in mind.

  1. You must get parental consent

To adopt your stepchildren, you must have the consent of your spouse. In addition, the other parent must give up his or her parental rights. This is a major legal decision, so it may not always go smoothly, especially if the other parent wants a relationship with the children.

  1. You have to go to court

This is a legal process, so you will have to go to court and see a judge, who will make the final ruling in the case. Usually, this is a formality because once you complete all the necessary steps and paperwork, the judge is likely to approve the adoption.

  1. There are special rules

Unlike the adoption of a child to whom you have no relationship, a stepparent adoption often has streamlined rules. You may not have to undergo many of the tasks that you would in a different type of adoption. For example, you may not have to have a home visit or evaluation.

Adopting a stepchild is a special thing. It often means a lot to everyone involved. So, if you make the decision, take time to really appreciate how wonderful it is.