When a child’s biological parent is out of the picture for years and a stepparent (or another adult) is the child’s “true parent”, adoption may be considered.
However, adopting a child does require filing a suit in family court and having one of the following results:
- (in a case for agreed termination and adoption) the legal consent of the biological parent whose rights are being terminated; OR
- (in a case for involuntary termination) persuading a judge that termination is warranted under the law; OR
- (in a case initiated by Child Protective Services) obtaining a judge’s order in a termination case and having the child entered into the CPS “system”; OR
- (in a case where the biological parent is unable to be found) having an attorney ad litem represent the absent parent and confirm that a diligent search does not find the parent’s whereabouts and then getting a termination order from the judge.
However, in some cases, it can be a dangerous risk. For instance, if the absent parent has substance abuse issues, engages in criminal activities, or has mental issues which negatively affect the ability to safely parent the child, you would not want to open the door to their contact with your child.