Stepparent Adoption

Sometimes, a situation arises where someone wishes to adopt a child who is the biological child of his or her spouse and a third-party. Before doing so, the prospective adoptive parent should carefully consider the ramifications of adoption for everyone involved. Under Iowa law, in many cases, a termination of parental rights must be accomplished before a petition for adoption can be filed. This, however, is not always the case. For instance, if a stepparent of the child to be adopted is the person petitioning for the adoption, then the termination of parental rights may be combined with the adoption proceeding under certain limited circumstances. (Under Iowa Code Sections 600.2(1) and 600A.2(18), “stepparent” is defined as “a person who is the spouse of a parent in a parent-child relationship, but who is not a parent in that parent-child relationship”.)

Given the relationship between adoption and termination of parental rights, it is important for someone considering adoption to understand when termination of parental rights is permitted under the law. Under Iowa law, a biological parent’s rights may be terminated only under certain conditions. Iowa Code Section 600A.8 sets forth grounds for termination of parental rights. This code section requires that certain factors must be met before a parent’s rights are able to be terminated. The Court may consider factors such as whether a parent has abandoned a child, whether the parent fails to object to or has consented to termination of his or her parental rights, and/or whether a parent has been ordered to contribute to the support of the child or financially aid in the child’s birth and has failed to do so without good cause. Some of these conditions have specific definitions under the law. The specific conditions may vary somewhat depending upon the age of the child to be adopted.

A qualified Cedar Rapids family law attorney with Arenson Law Group, PC can help you to better understand the law surrounding termination of parental rights and adoption, so that you can decide the best way to proceed in your own situation.