Many times a child has little to no relationship with a biological parent but has a wonderful relationship with a step-parent. In those situations, many families consider having the step-parent adopt the child. In order to complete a step-parent adoption, the rights of the biological parent must first be terminated. (This can be done in the same proceeding as the adoption.)
If the bio parent is agreeable to the termination, this is a very easy and quick process. The relinquishing bio parent must simply sign an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights, to be filed with the petition for termination and step-parent adoption. When there is a step-parent ready to step in to adopt the child, the court will almost universally approve the termination. With most adoptions, a social study and a guardian ad litem or amicus attorney (an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the child) are required. However, with a step-parent adoption, you may ask the court to waive one or both of these requirements. The step-parent must still complete a background check. Once all paperwork has been completed, the non-terminating bio parent, the step-parent and the child will appear in court to finalize the adoption with a short prove-up hearing.
After the terminating bio parent signs an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights, that parent is generally no longer entitled to notice of anything that goes on in the proceeding. That parent will not receive any order of termination or adoption or ever even get confirmation that it happened.
If the bio parent is not willing to voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights, the process can be much more difficult. The parent who is attempting to terminate the other parent’s rights could have a long, uphill battle trying to prove that the bio parent’s rights should be terminated. The step-parent cannot adopt unless the court first finds that sufficient grounds exist to terminate the bio parent’s rights.