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Step-parent adoption - tracing the ex

(9 Posts)
threemee Sat 12-Sep-09 15:58:37

This is something that I'm thinking about for the next couple of years, as I'm not even living with current partner yet!

DS was born in 1999 and doesn't have bio father's name on birth cert. Bio father was violent, abusive, rapey and in and out of prison etc, I left him before DS was born and have not had contact with him since. We were not married so there is no 'official' trace of him as my partner at the time.

I've had one email and a couple of notes sent from him over the years, asking me to get in touch, but I've ignored them as I don't want any contact with him again.
It's possible that he doesn't know that DS exists, he did not mention a child in any of the messages. At the time I was pg, we'd discussed possibility of me being pg as I'd missed periods but never had an actual test. When I first left him he'd gone around to my parents' home bragging that he knew I was pg. As it was first trimester he may have assumed that I'd had an abortion.

Anyway, now I have a new partner and at some point I'd like DS to be adopted by him. One reason is that we might move to partner's home country and DS could only have full rights as adopted child, not step-child. Plus I'd like reassurance that psycho-ex wouldn't end up looking after DS if anything should happen to me.

I'm concerned that if I go through the adoption route, psycho-ex might try to be difficult once he finds out that DS definitely exists and try to start having contact/block the adoption. He doesn't have PR as I understand it, so that helps.

I know that the courts can dispense with the absent parent's consent, but is that likely to happen in this situation? I don't have much 'proof' of the abusive relationship, e.g. through social services or hospitals.

I've also considered simply not giving information about psycho-ex to help SW's trace him. There is no paper trace of him as we weren't married and there's never been any DNA tests, CSA involvement. How hard would they check if I said he was, say, a one-night stand? I genuinely don't know his current address in fact, although I know of ways to contact him via the internet.

And an extra question - as partner is from another country, how will that affect the adoption procedure? He's lived in the UK for two and a half years.

Heated Sat 12-Sep-09 16:13:13

Since you are not living together and you are jumping the gun a bit, this has a while to pan out. There is time for ds to bond with your bf but also time for ex to either turn up, or not, in your life.

But yes, if the scenario was that bf/new hb loved him as his own and biofather had not resurfaced on the scene I can understand not trying too hard to track this man down who was " violent, abusive, rapey and in and out of prison"

The concern would be - would it mean lying to your son or putting him in a position where he would have to lie?

EldonAve Sat 12-Sep-09 16:23:21

What is your partner's home country?

Assuming all goes well, he adopts your child and you move there, what happens if you split?
Could you lose custody of your child? Or be prevented from moving back to the UK?

bonkerz Sat 12-Sep-09 16:29:37

my dh and i looked into him adopting my son when we first got married and had been together a year. solicitor told us the court would not consider adoption till we had been married atleast 2 years and that i would have to adopt my own son too which seemed strange to me but is definately how it works. instead we went for a residency order and parental responsibility for DH. The court had to write a letter to DS bio father and we had to wait for them to trace him etc......luckily i knew bio father would not object and he signed over all rights to ds to dh.
i guess if you say it was a one night stand the courts will not persue at all and you wil just have to declare you are the only one with parental responsibility.

threemee Sat 12-Sep-09 16:35:03

DS doesn't know much about his bio father, he hasn't asked and I don't even have a photo of him. I haven't lied to DS but not told him in too much detail about the truth. I suppose the SW would want to interview DS, but I don't think he'd have to lie to them as he simply doesn't know very much.

My partner is from the US. If he did adopt DS, I'd consider it to be as binding as if we were both DS's bio parents, so in theory I could lose custody in the event of a split. But that's the same situation as if we had (birth) children together, surely? Which we plan on doing at some stage, and I'd want DS to have equal status to them in the family.

threemee Sat 12-Sep-09 16:39:41

bonkerz, I know there have been changes in recent years (2005) so that the situation where you have to adopt your own child has changed, which I'm pleased about. I think also that even non-married couples can adopt in these circumstances now (although we do plan to marry).

NanaNina Sat 12-Sep-09 23:05:13

Threeme - I think as others have said that you are "jumping the gun" a little here. I am an independent social worker and have done many step parent adoptions in my time. The things that come to my mind are:

Have you and your partner discussed this plan for him to adopt your son.

What is the relationship like between your P and your son.

Is your P wanting to adopt your son

Your son is aged 10 - what would he think about the plan. He is of an age when his wishes and feelings will be taken into account and will be an important issue in the process.

Please do not be dishonest with the social worker about the background of your son's father and his whereabouts. The adoption application will be heard by a Judge and I'm sure you know it is a serious matter to be dishonest with courts. What does your son know about his father. The sw will want to discuss all of this with you and will also talk to your son about any feelings he has about his birth father. Part of the sws responsibility will be to get the consent of the birth father to the adoption. You can contact him via the internet and so you must pass this info to the sw. It is possible to dispense with consent but a judge would have to be absolutely certain that all efforts had been made to find the birth father, before granting the adoption.

I wonder about your son and what he has been told about his birth father and what he may feel about never having seen him. Do you talk to him about this. I know it sounds like the father was a hopeless case but this does not necessarily mean that your son won't have thoughts/feelings about this. It may be that this issue has to be dealt with before thinking of step parent adoption. The sw will certainly want to address this issue in the assessment.

Can't see that the fact that your P is not British will affect matters. It is more to do with whether this adoption would be in the best interests of your son.

Hope it all works out OK for you

ilovemydogandmrobama Sat 12-Sep-09 23:21:44

You may be in a better position if you went to the US and then DP adopted DS, obviously planning ahead.

The US system recognizes adoptive parents totally. For instance, if your DP adopts DS, the birth certificate could be changed, if it was an American one, but not as it's a British birth certificate.

The adoption process differs from State to State, so research it out.

The difficulty you will have is that you have never told your DS father that he has a child, so for DS being adopted without your exDP not being given the opportunity to show that he was/wasn't a good father may be tricky. In other words, you can't say that he wasn't a good father as he didn't know he had a child.

You will need to show why you didn't tell him and the reasons for it, and that your child's best interests, as far as knowing his father, were secondary to your own safety.

But the fact of the matter is that DS is 10 years old and the reality is that he hasn't ever known a father, therefore the status quo should be maintained and would be more disruptive for him at this stage.

threemee Sun 13-Sep-09 10:29:36

NanaNina - I don't agree that I am 'jumping the gun'. It is something I've been thinking about and discussing with DP and I want to know what is likely to happen when the time comes so that we are prepared for it. I understand the official legal side from government websites, but I am not clear on how effectively things are implemented, hence seeking advice from other people with experience. Not many people I know now are aware of the history with bio-father, so it's easier for me to ask anonymously here.
And obviously, if we move abroad, the options and consequences are quite varied so I think it's more sensible to do our homework now rather than later. Adopting once we're in the US is something I've wondered might be easier/harder - would it be treated as an International Adoption?

DP does want to get married and 'be a father' to DS, although what happens 'on paper' isn't important to him. DP and DS get on really well and they have a strong bond. I haven't mentioned adoption to DS as I don't want to get his hopes up. DP is the only bf I've ever introduced to DS, I have been careful not to let him get acquainted with them unless I feel completely secure in the relationship and that they'd be good as a parent as well as a partner.
We're also looking at Parental Responsibility as an alternative. This sounds like it might be easier, but I don't know if it would be recognised in the US.

It's extremely unlikely that bio-father would re-emerge if he didn't hear from me or SW about the adoption, we don't live in the same city or have any mutual friends. So I have considered letting sleeping dogs lie, let DP be just a step-father and not risk bio-father wanting to make contact or having SWs bring up lots of details about the past. The disadvantage of that would be that certain things won't be recognised in law. Most of the time that wouldn't be a problem, unless something happens to me, and then it would be a major problem. Apparently even if I ask DP to care for DS in my will, it would be the courts who make the final decision.

As an aside, DS has Asperger Syndrome so has difficulty expressing his feelings and I think it could be quite damaging to probe too deeply about his bio-father. DS is happy to spend time with DP and to have the chance of being in a 'real' family and I'm not sure that spending lots of time analysing his feelings about it is going to help him.

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