Adoption Issues/adopting my step-daugther
Mr. Winkler, thank you for reading this email.
I got married and my wife had a three years old girl that I love very much and we are taking care of her since then. My daughter is now 7 years old. I married the mother in Peru (they were both born in Peru) and recently both become US citizens. The biological father left when she was 1 year old and we don't have information on his whereabouts at all. We search him in the internet, friends, family, etc and nothing. I will like to adopt her for good and initiate the adoption process. We live in FL. Please advise on how to proceed? Thanks. Ney R.
Adoption laws vary from state to state, but most states have laws that are similar to one another. You will have to get the court to grant a termination of the birth father's parental rights before you can adopt the child. Most states have laws that allow for this if the birth father has not visited the child or contributed to her support for a certain period of time. The court may require that you show proof that you have tried to contact the father to let him know that you are petitioning to adopt the child. The court will also ask that you go through the home study process which usually consists of a social worker visiting your home, collecting information that shows you are suited to adopt this child and preparing a report for the judge.
You usually need to hire a lawyer to advise you on these matters and to represent you in court. Use a lawyer who has done adoption work previously or one who specializes in family law. You can ask them up front how much their services will cost.
As you can see, there are several steps to completing the adoption process and it might take a year or so to complete, but I would encourage you to move ahead to make clear to your daughter that you are fully committed to her.