In Indiana, a stepparent may adopt a stepchild and raise the child as his own. Upon completion of the adoption proceedings the stepparent acquires the same rights and responsibilities regarding the child as if the adoptive parent were the biological father or mother.
Petition for Stepparent Adoption
Title 31 Article 19 section 2 of the Indiana Code controls adoption proceedings. To begin adoption proceedings of your stepchild, you must file a petition in the court within the county where your stepchild resides. Your spouse must either join you in the adoption action or file a written consent with the petition for adoption.
Consent to Adoption
If your stepchild was born in wedlock it is necessary to receive written consent of the adoption from both living birth parents. If the child was born out of wedlock, written consent of the father is only necessary if paternity has been established by a court proceeding or by the signing of the child's birth certificate.
Effect of Adoption on Parents
After the adoption proceedings are complete the biological parent is relieved of all legal duties, obligations and rights to the child. The adoptive stepparent and her spouse now retain all responsibilities of their child. Prior to the final entry of adoption decree, the biological parent relinquishing his rights must still support the child. If there is past due child support after the entry of the final adoption, it must still be paid.
Postadoption Visitation to Birth Parent
Although a stepparent may adopt his stepchild and help to raise her as if she were his own, a biological parent who has consented to the adoption or voluntarily given up rights to the child may be granted visitation if the court determines it is in the child's best interests.