Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott - Marietta family law and divorce attorneys

Real Stepparent Adoption Experiences: Part 1

By Suzanne Prescott

Stepparent adoptions are some of my favorite types of cases to handle. Securing a child’s future with loving parents is rewarding in many ways. In these cases, I get to know the clients, and in some cases the children, very well. Usually, I am able to complete a stepparent adoption in 6 months or less with little to no litigation. Having handled adoptions for over 10 years, I have grown proficient in processing and finalizing adoptions seamlessly.

Three years ago a stepparent adoption case led me on a journey I will never forget. In fact, the case is still pending in the Court of Appeals of Georgia and I developed a very close friendship with the adoptive stepmother whom I represented.

The Case

It all started as a standard stepparent adoption. The stepmother and father were living with the father’s two sons. The stepmother was raising the children as her own and had been for some time. They were a happily married modern, blended family. The children’s mother had been out of the picture for well over a year, most recently having left the country. She had not had any contact with the children, nor had she paid any child support for over a year. As with every stepparent adoption in Georgia, we began the process with filing a petition for adoption, serving the biological mother, conducting the appropriate criminal background checks, and completing the forms required pursuant to the Georgia adoption statute. We expected no obstacles whatsoever and properly scheduled a final hearing to conclude the case and finalize the adoption. Much to our surprise, at the last minute, the biological mother decided to contest the adoption. Thus began several years of litigation.

In a contested adoption where a biological parent refuses to surrender his or her rights, an adoption can still be granted over the biological parent’s objection if certain statutory requirements are met. The requirements are strenuous and the evidence must be clear and convincing that the biological parent has failed the children in several capacities. In gathering evidence for a contested adoption you must be both creative and thorough. I rarely hire a private investigator in adoption cases; however, this case created some unique challenges that required the use of several outside-the-box resources. Private investigators are expensive but they can yield extremely effective evidence. After a visit to a nightclub, and then trip to the lake house, my private investigator had gathered some of the vital evidence I needed to satisfy a portion of the proof required for the case.

Part 2 – Coming Soon

Check out next month’s blog for what we discovered, and how I was able to use it to my client’s benefit.

In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns regarding adoption, don’t hesitate to call the offices of Bivek Brubaker & Prescott to schedule a consultation!

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