This fact sheet summarizes findings on a study on the issues and motivations for stepchild adoption. The study interviewed 16 stepfamilies, including 22 children between the ages of 10 and 19 living in the household and 32 adults. The study found that while only one stepfamily experienced adoption, all others considered doing so. Thinking about and discussing adoption depended on the level of involvement of the nonresident parent. When the nonresident parent was actively involved or somewhat regularly involved, then adoption was not given serious consideration by either the adults or the children. More serious consideration, however, was given when the relationship between the nonresident parent and child was not particularly close but contact was maintained. In these cases, the reluctance to adopt was related to anticipating a hostile legal proceeding and interactions with the nonresident parent over termination of parental rights. Other barriers to pursuing adoption reported by both adults and children were related to financial issues. Motivations for stepchild adoption included the desire to become like a nuclear family, removal of some of the daily hassles of being a stepfamily, concern over what would happen if the resident parent died, and the lack of a legally recognized relationship. The study also found stepfathers thought more about adoption than did parents, and stepchildren also considered adoption more than did parents. The benefit of developing social policy that promotes a legally recognized relationship between stepparents and stepchildren without termination of nonresident parent ties is considered. 6 references.
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Contemplating Stepchild Adoption.