Adopting a stepchild

Advantages and disadvantages of adoption for stepfamilies

Adoption has a number of apparent advantages:

  • Your family is recognised by law
  • All its members have the same surname
  • The children share rights of inheritance with any other children of the family
  • Legal links with the previous family are cut
  • You do not have to be married to adopt - you can also adopt as the partner of the child's parent

So, adoption can simplify the legal situation for stepfamilies.  However, it is important for step-parents to think very carefully about whether adoption will benefit their family.

These are some of the disadvantages of adoption for stepchildren

  • If stepchildren are adopted, the law no longer recognises the other birth parent as having any parental links with the child.  Also, half-brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on that parent's side will then be legally unrelated to the child.   Your child will be legally cut off not only from one of his or her parents but from a large section of that parent's wider family too.  This could be confusing or distressing for the child and obviously needs careful consideration.  In recent years people have become more aware of how important it is for children to know about their origins.  In step-parent adoptions, too, it is important to ensure that, although legal ties may be severed, the child does not completely lose contact with the other parent and his or her relatives.
  • Children may feel that they have to choose between different adults who are all important to them.  All adopted children feel some sense of loss because their original parent gave them up to someone else.
  • Sooner or later an adopted child may blame their parent or step-parent for the loss of the other birth parent.
  • There may also be practical disadvantages to adoption. An adopted child loses any rights to maintenance or inheritance from the other birth parent or that parent's family (such as grandparents).

Family Placement Service

Civic Centre 1, Little Park Street, Coventry, CV1 5RS


Tel: 024 7683 2828