Stepparent adoption is similar to other kinds of adoption, although the home study requirement may be waived. It can be a more streamlined process, and can be faster than other kinds of adoption. But what happens after a stepparent adoption? A couple adopting a new baby or an unrelated child may bring their child home after the adoption, but in a stepparent adoption the child usually already lives with the new adoptive parent. So what’s the next step?

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What’s changed?

Now that you have adopted your stepchild, you are that child’s legal parent. You have legal responsibility for the child just as you would if you were the biological parent. It’s certainly a time to celebrate.

What happens after a stepparent adoption is largely up to your family. For example, your stepchild might change their last name — or even their entire name. A boy who was named after this biological father or has his birth father’s dad’s name for a middle name might want to mark the occasion with a name change. If the child is too young to make that decision, the parents can make the choice.

You can change the child’s birth certificate to acknowledge that change, too. You will need a copy of the court order and adoption decree and a small fee. The changes are made through the Arkansas Department of Health for children born in Arkansas. If your child was born in another state, you will need to apply in that state.

You will also want to update the child’s Social Security card if there is a name change. This can be done through the Social Security Administration website.

In fact, if your child’s name changes, you will need to update all the places where your child’s name is in use officially:

  • the child’s school
  • summer camp or after-school programs
  • passport
  • pediatrician’s office
  • savings account or savings deposit box
  • your will

If your child’s name will not change, you should still let school and doctor’s offices know that you are now a legally responsible party. Again, your adoption decree will be the paperwork you need for this step.

Child support and visitation

If your child has another birth parent besides your spouse, that individual’s parental rights will be terminated in the process of the adoption. They will either have consented to give up their rights, or the rights will have been terminated by court order.

Since that person is no longer the child’s legal parent, there will no longer be any need for child support. However, they will still be responsible for any back payments they owed from the time before the adoption.

While a family may agree to allow either or both birth parents to retain contact with the adopted child, whether they were a stepchild or not, allowing that contact is not legally required. Since the other parent’s parental rights have been terminated and you are now the child’s legal parent, any earlier visitation arrangements will be obsolete.


You may still have questions about stepparent adoption and what happens after stepparent adoption. Heimer Law is happy to answer all your questions. Call us at (479) 225.9725 or fill out our simple inquiry form.

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