Frequently Asked Questions: Stepparent/Second Parent Adoptions

Q:Are second parent and stepparent adoptions the same thing?
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually two very different concepts. Stepparent adoptions are available only to stepparents and rely on the underlying marriage for their validity. Second parent adoptions (also called co-parent adoptions) are not based on marriage, but rather on the intent to parent a child, and can be granted for unmarried couples who intend to raise a child together. In New Hampshire, both opposite-sex and same-sex couples can adopt if they are married.  If you are an unmarried couples seeking a second parent adoption, please call our office so that we can help you understand the options available to you.
Q:Are stepparent adoptions sufficient to protect my rights under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?
It depends. DOMA is a statute that is based on the concept of marriage, and focuses specifically on the recognition of same-sex marriages by other states. Thus, the analysis of whether a stepparent adoption is “good enough” for your needs can get complicated. For many same-sex couples, a stepparent adoption is “good enough” but other same-sex couples may need a second parent adoption to sufficiently protect their (and their child’s) rights. Keep in mind that this issue with DOMA only impacts same-sex couples.
Q:How quickly can a stepparent adoption be accomplished?
This will vary from court to court, but it generally will take about 60 days after the child’s birth to complete a simple stepparent adoption, such as for a same-sex couple who used an anonymous sperm donor. It may take longer for more complex situations, such as where a biological father’s or known sperm donor’s rights must be terminated.
Q:My husband would like to adopt my child. My child’s father has never been involved in her life. How do we go about terminating his rights?
There are two different ways to terminate his rights. One process is known as a surrender and will require his cooperation. The other method permits you to terminate his rights even without his cooperation. Your husband will then be able to complete what is known as a stepparent adoption. There are also some circumstances under which the biological father’s rights do not even need to be terminated, and you can proceed directly to the adoption. At the Law Office of Catherine Tucker, we can help you determine the best way to proceed under your particular circumstances, and we can also handle all the paperwork and court hearings necessary for the process.