There are many ways to grow a family – through the birth of biological children, through foster care, through adoption, or some combination of these. Of the many ways these bonds are created, though, one of the most overlooked is stepparent adoption; we recognize stepparent relationships, but only a small number of stepparents actually adopt their partner’s children. Despite this lack of recognition, though, stepparents still find that raising a child enriches their lives, and that deserves to be celebrated.
If your family includes relationships forged through stepparent adoption, you should consider finding ways to mark these special bonds. Whether it’s a one-time event or a yearly ritual, these celebrations are a wonderful way to mark the unique ways that love can create a family.
Plant A Tree
For many adopted children, family tree projects can be alienating, emphasizing the ways that they’re different from their peers. To mark your family’s stepparent adoption, then, why not put a twist on the traditional family tree and plant a tree together? You can watch that tree grow across the years, just as your family grows deeper roots.
Save The Date
Like other adoptions, stepparent adoptions can take a long while to complete since there are a number of legal prerequisites. These include terminating the parental rights of a birth parent or demonstrating abandonment, petitioning the courts, and scheduling an adoption hearing. If the child to be adopted is 12 or over, they also need to consent to the adoption. Given all this, the date an adoption is finalized may be very special to your family, so you should mark it accordingly.
One way your family can connect with this special date is by getting a piece of jewelry, keychain, or other piece of memorabilia engraved with the date. Just as many parents wear jewelry engraved with their child’s birthdate or get their child jewelry inscribed with the date of other major rites of passage like their baptism or bat mitzvah, a piece of jewelry makes the perfect stepparent adoption keepsake.
Pose For A Portrait
You may have many pictures of your family together before finalizing a stepparent adoption, but now is the time to create a particularly special one. Consider posing in a special place, or submitting your photo to an artist who can create an illustrated portrait of your family. And don’t forget to take a picture at the courthouse – because so many terrible issues are dealt with in that setting, family courts overflow with joy when they finalize adoption. It’s one of the few times they get to issue good news and you’ll want to remember that moment when your family was finally legally recognized.
Families formed through stepparent adoption may not share biological ties and may not be supported by the sorts of cultural stories that underlie infant adoption, but they’re special in their own way, and they’re uniquely hard-won. You all have traveled a long road to arrive at this place, to build bonds of love and trust that are meant to last. Take the time to celebrate.