Step Parent Adoption
A partner (of a couple) may be interested in adopting a child born to the other partner during a previous relationship or marriage. These adoptions can be done without using an adoption agency or the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Prospective adoptive parent(s) usually retain lawyers to help them process their adoption application. Some Supreme Court Registries in British Columbia provide information packages. The packages contain photocopies of basic forms and instructions to help prospective adoptive parents to complete straightforward adoptions by stepparents or relatives.
Some things to note:
- The non-birth parent can apply to the court to jointly become the parent of the child with the birth parent. Contact a local Supreme Court Registry for information.
- A child aged 7 to 12 years being adopted by a stepparent must be interviewed in private by an authorized person. This is to find out if the child understands the meaning of adoption and has any views on the proposed adoption. The report must be filed with the court.
- In addition to being asked to consent to the adoption, any child 12 years or older must be asked for consent to any change of name resulting from the adoption.
- Anyone with access rights to the child must be given notice of the adoption application.
The British Columbia Adoption Act, addresses the legal requirements to complete a relative adoption:
- Prospective adoptive parent(s) must be residents of British Columbia.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development does not have a role in these adoptions. However, the Court (under section 34 of the Adoption Act) has the authority to order MCFD to conduct a review into any aspect of the application (i.e., the absence of a biological father’s consent, the child’s views) and file a report with the Court.
- The Court must consider the child’s best interests when making a determination to grant an adoption order.
Interviewing child/children between 7 and 11 years of age
- Under the Adoption Act, a younger child must be interviewed and his/her views on the proposed adoption and name change will be submitted to the Court.
Interviewing child/children 12 years of age or older
- If your child is 12 years of age or older his/her consent to the adoption and name change must be obtained.
- A child can revoke their consent to the adoption at any time before the adoption order is granted.
Registry for Birth Parents
The Registry for Birth Parents must be searched in all cases where birth parent(s) voluntarily request adoption placement for their child, and in direct placement situations. The court may require a search in adoptions by stepparent or relatives. A search form can be obtained from the Parents Registry by calling 250-387-3660.
The following persons may apply to request a search of the birth parents’ registry:
- a social worker
- an extra-provincial agency
- a person entitled to practice law under the Legal Profession Act who represents a party to the adoption
- a prospective adoptive parent in a direct placement who has given notice of intent to receive a child into his or her home under section 8(1) of the Act
- If you want to employ a lawyer, check your local phone book’s yellow pages, under “lawyer”. Some lawyers offer a 30 – minute consultation service for a nominal fee. Adoption is categorized under Family Law.
- Dial-A-Law is a public service operated by the British Columbia Branch, Canadian Bar Association. The service provides free tape-recorded information, not legal advice. If you are calling within the Lower Mainland, the number is (604) 687-4680; outside the Lower Mainland, call 1-800-565-5297 toll free.
Doing it on your own
Some Supreme Court Registries in British Columbia provide information packages. The packages contain photocopies of basic forms and instructions to help prospective adoptive parents to complete straightforward adoptions by stepparents or relatives.
It is advisable to consult with a lawyer before completing the forms and submitting the package to the court. For more information or to begin a stepparent adoption, please contact your local supreme court registry, or a lawyer.