Often, stepparents share many of the same parental responsibilities as their spouses. You may feel like you are an equal parent in the relationship, but this is not the case legally.

You can, however, adopt your stepchild under certain circumstances.

How can you adopt your stepchild?

While the Court of Probate has to approve the adoption as in the best interests of the child, if you share parental responsibilities with the child’s parent and if the other biological parent terminated his or her rights, you can adopt a stepchild. Connecticut law states that you must also have the child’s consent for adoption if he or she 12 years of age or older.

How can parental rights be terminated?

Connecticut law explains that a parent can consent to terminate his or her rights to the child. Now, the court still must approve of the termination based on the best interests of the child. Involuntary terminations, however, can be for six different reasons:

  • Refuses to maintain responsibility, interest or concern for the child
  • No parental relationship with the child
  • Rehabilitation failure when a parent has young children under the age of seven
  • Convictions of sexual assault where the child is the result
  • Assault or murder of another one of his or her children
  • Abused, neglected or refused to care for the child’s wellbeing

A parent can contest his or her termination. When the parent does, the court has to consider a parent’s efforts, the extent by which the parent attempts to have a relationship with the child, emotional bonds between parent and child and the terms of court orders involving the parents.