How do I adopt my wife's child?

Updated April 17, 2017

Adopting your wife's child is one more step toward becoming a complete family. It's important to have several conversations with all of you present before you start the stages of adoption so that everyone is on the same page. Adopting not only makes you a legal guardian of the child, but can bring your family closer together. This option is one that many families take so that they feel they are a whole family unit.

Talk about the child's father with both your wife and the child, if he is old enough to understand. Does the biological father still have contact with him? Does the child wish to continue contact with the parent? Is there a reason for termination of parental rights such as abuse or neglect involved?

Discuss the potential adoption with the child's father, if you have contact with him. He must either consent to the adoption or the court must find that he has abandoned the child because he is no longer spending time with the child or paying child support.

Consult a lawyer about the process and cost of pursuing the adoption and what it means legally when you become an adoptive parent. You need to understand the responsibilities that come with being a legal guardian of a child as well as the personal feelings involved in becoming the child's parent in every sense. Take the time to think about if this situation is right for you and your family.

Request the forms to terminate a parent's right and to adopt a child from your state's family courts. The family court usually exists at the state's circuit court level. You and your wife will need to fill out the paperwork completely. Consult your lawyer if you are unsure about anything that you find on the forms.

File the adoption forms along with the required court fees. Court fees vary from state to state, so check with your state court system as to the cost of filing the adoption forms. The court will notify you of a court date regarding the adoption.

Attend the court hearing and discuss all options openly with the judge. The judge will make a final decision regarding the adoption by acting in the best interest of the child.


Consult with lawyers who specialise in adoption when you feel it is necessary. Keep copies of all documents that you file with the courts for your files. .


Different states have different parent right laws. Research your state's laws before you move forward with adoption.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Angela Reinholz is a full-time freelance writer. Reinholz started writing professionally in 2007, specializing in animals and social work with some branching off into legal matters. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern New Hampshire University and an associate degree in network administration from McIntosh College, located in Dover, N.H.