Can a Step Parent Adoption Be Reversed?

Updated on December 15, 2010
N.P. asks from Savage, MN
22 answers

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this, but I promised my daughter I'd look into it.

When I got remarried, my husband adopted my daughter who was 8 at that time. Her birth father suggested the adoption, and my new husband was willing. We discussed it with my daughter and told her that the choice was hers. I told her repeatedly that she shouldn't do it just for my sake, but only if she wanted to. She agreed to the adoption and we got it done quickly and painlessly with her birth father's consent.

Fast forward to 7 years later. My husband and I are divorced after 4 years of marriage, we have a second child together who is now 5. My ex definitely shows favoritism to his natural child and treats his adopted child like the enemy. No matter what she does or says, he has some criticism about it. He's constantly finding an excuse to punish her. I honestly think the only reason he wants her in his life at all is because it's the responsibility he took on, and not because he loves her. And of course, now she says that she only agreed to it to make me happy.

She begs me to let her stay home every time it's his night/weekend to have them. Of course, that's not an option because we have to follow the divorce decree. It would just make matters worse if I tried to defy the courts. But, it almost always ends with either her or I crying as I drop them off for the time with Dad.

She's asked me to find out if there's a way that she can write a letter to the judge that approved her adoption asking him to reverse it, or some kind of filing we can do to dissolve a step-parent adoption. All of the googling I've done has gotten me very little information. Does anyone out there know if there's a way to free her of this man? And, since I still have to parent another child with him for 13 years, I'm trying to not get in the middle. Is there a way she can do this on her own?

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answers from Chattanooga on

I don't know if it can be reversed... but maybe you can change the visitation rights? I know that for a while when I was younger I HATED going to my mom's house, so instead I would go to my grandma's. (Unless my mom pushed the point, then I HAD to go to her house...) At 15 you DD should be able to speak to the judge on her own behalf... You might even document the way he is treating her (if there is any way for you to do that) as 'proof' that it isn't beneficial for her to be there...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My step daughter was 15 when she desided that she reather live with her mother. We were not for it but soon found out that there was nothing we could do about. Even throgh her dad had custody. He threaten to get the police involved to make her obey the visitation order. Well they will not inforce it, they do not get involved. We live in the same state.
So if my moth is correct she is 15 you dont have to force her. And I wouldn't

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Eugene on

She is old enough to refuse to see him. If he wants to take the matter to court she can tell the judge what is wrong. She is 15 if she doesn't want to see him no one can force her to and that includes you.
If you don't want her to run away from home you had better stand by her. You are in the middle. No 8 year old makes a solid choice about a step parent adoption. She was too young to judge the consequences. And you were too in love at the time to realize how your new husband really treated her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

how could he enforce visitation with a 15 year old? If she doesnt want to go, what can you do, physically force her? I think at 15, it should be up to her, court order or not.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

At 15 she can decide with whom she spends time. No judge or court will force it. Some kids would like to "unadopt" their biological parents, too (my stepchildren for example), but that can't happen...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

It doesn't matter if it's with a step-parent or a total stranger desperately wanting a child. An adoption is just the same as if you were to have a child naturally--you are their parent. Period. However, by age 12, most states recognize that the child is old enough to determine what parent they want to live with. If she doesn't want to see her step-father, then she cannot be forced into it. But unfortunately, she's stuck with your ex as her adoptive father forever.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Haven't read the other responses, but my attorney told me that at the age of 11 or 12, children are old enough to decide for themselves whether they want to go with the non'custodial parent or not. You do NOT have to make her.

If he INSISTS, he can ask for a case worker to review the situation, but they RARELY end up forcing ANY child to go.

Put your foot down.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Eau Claire on

Just based off what you wrote, I'm not sure that I agree that she should be allowed to reverse her adoption. No child at 15ish likes their parents. What you're seeing as being favoritism, is it possible that due to her age that her "father" is just doing what he thinks is best as a parent? I completely hated my stepdad at that age, and I'm sure the divorce doesn't help the situation. I would definately look into having the visitation agreement changed, if she truly doesn't want to visit him. All children try to rebel against their parents at some point... Maybe if the visits stop he will realize that his behavior was emotionally hurting his daughter....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

in my honest opinion, ALL the parents involved shouldn't have given A CHILD that choice to begin with because of this issue, she was not old enough to make a MATURE, well educated decision on that matter and the prospects of "if divorce happens later" should've been addressed or at least talked about between you and "dad" NOT her.

personally "dad" needs to take responsibility for his actions and his commitment to HIS DAUGHTER, EVERYONE agreed, EVERYONE wanted the adoption and HE needs to treat her as his own as she LEGALLY is.

you can't take away who your mom is or your dad, and an adoption is saying just that "they are like my own, and i will treat them as such, emotionally, AND financially" he probably wouldn't mind getting out because it would mean less child support?? but even still he needs to stand by his commitment he made those many years ago.....regardless if i were you i would not allow the adoption to be reversed, you CAN order him for certain behaviours to take place when they are around him or visitation with BOTH kids can be interfered with.

oklahoma law, 13 + is old enough to decide the kind of visitation they want and who they want to live with in the court sounds like if she's not 13 or if your state has that law, then everyone needs to suck it up until then...or just live with decisions

maybe next time YOU will think harder before allowing someone to adopt your child....the ONLY way i would let an adoption take place is if there is a PRENUPTUAL agreement filed in court that IF a divorce is to occur, the adopted parent WILL pay child support and treat the child as his/her own or if other kids are involved, visitation and parenting rights to ALL children can be hindered

another thing that just fries my @#@[email protected]$ is YOU are considering allowing not 1 but TWO dad's to walk out on her?!!?!!....can you even imagine how she must be feeling...o mi god! poor kid!!!!! my dad walked out on me at 5 and didn't really come back in the picture until after i had my daughter by almost 2 years....i cried daily ALL MY LIFE...just cause she's not showing you her resentful hurting heart doesn't mean its not there, and do you REALLY think she's going to TELL you that she's hurting and feels abandoned not only by her dad but POSSIBLY her mother too for allowing her DADS to walk out on her....

you need to reconsider this....god i'd be FRIED if my ex or my dh EVER mentioned walking out on my daughter and i WOULD not allow that to happen even after an adoption

i'm sorry this has me really fired need help

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My ex and I have left it up to the older kids whether they want to go to the other parents house for visitation. Helps them feel like they have a voice and we respect that... With the younger ones its a different story.

Im concerned for your daughter that her bio-dad gave her up and now what your current ex is doing. I think you need to help her understand that not ALL men are like this. I talk from experience. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

She can't be forced to go. When my parents got divorced, for awhile my brother didn't want to go see my dad. Since it was his decision, there was not much that could be done. Definately talk to your lawyer or the judge. Something can be done.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I don't know for sure what the law is but if he is willing to sign away his parental rights you should be able to have that done (like when her bio-dad signed off on the adoption). She is definately approaching the age where she can say where she wants to live but I doubt they will stop all visitations unless he signs off on it.

Be aware that if you do this, it leaver her without a father. Should something happen to you, she would be an ophan so you would need to be sure you had something in place LEGALLY as to where/with whom she would live.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My sister was adopted by my dad and this came up as an issue when she was an adolescent. I also have a girl friend who's daughter is in the same boat (her daughter is a teenager as well.) Then again, I see this pattern in many relationships between teenage girls, their dads, and younger siblings. I don't think that makes it easy, but it may blow over with age and time. Fathers often have a difficult time with daughters in their adolescent years. I don't think it is fair, but may be a "norm".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Amen, Somer G.!
What makes you think that at (what?) 15, this kid is any better equipped to make a decision about her "parent" than she was at 8? NEVER should she have had to make that choice at the age of 8--how awful for her AND her biological father.
I think that you and this man need to sit down and discuss your concerns and his and her behavior.
Stop creating legal papers that suit you at the moment.
I'm sorry, I can't help but feel your motives here are to hurt him, since you are now divorced.

The only thing about his behavior that you write is "My ex definitely shows favoritism to his natural child and treats his adopted child like the enemy. No matter what she does or says, he has some criticism about it. He's constantly finding an excuse to punish her."
I'm sorry but isn't that your opinion? Are you there? Do you KNOW how he feels? At 15, is she maybe taking your "side" in this divorce and acting out?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

talk it over with your ex-if he doesnt have a problem with her not going for the wkend-get it in writing.your the mom-your in the middle-like it or not-shes what? 11?..geeeeeze poor kid,call a lawyer instead of googling-youll get faster answers or call cps,social services,family courts.if its this tragic for her...handle it,dont scar her for life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

No, I'm sorry, but adoption is for life. If it's an issue, you should set up mediation and try to explain things to him. My DD was adopted by my husband 6 years ago and they made sure to let us know that this is for life!



answers from Omaha on

Can't answer this question but my is it interesting.

My only thought is I have alot of divorced friends. One's father lives across the country and for 6 weeks during summer she is to see him. Well she is now 14 and doesn't want to do it. Who wants to leave their friends during the summer so not shockin right. They did something with the court and because she is old enough she set from then on out. It was like for a week and a half. Keep in mind this is her actual father and it isn't that she doesn't want to see him it is just because it is inconvenient for her little life anymore.

Well if I do the math she sounds older at least 15. Why not try this? I don't know how they did it but I'm sure it had to do with a family lawyer.



answers from Lincoln on

The only that comes to my mind is that the step-father could reliniquish his rights to her (just like the biological dad did). That would be the only way I believe.



answers from Redding on

I think you have to consider how you would handle this if your daughter WERE your ex's biological child. You know that she isn't, but I can tell you that many teenage girls have problems with one parent or the other.
My own daughter turned into some alien creature when she hit 16 and it was horrible. She didn't want to listen to me, was disrespectful, refused to do anything to help around the house, told people I was mean to her and I hated her, told me she hated me. She also accused me of favoring her little brother who is 10 years younger. I didn't favor him at all. He was never in trouble because he didn't smart mouth me and fight me on every single little thing. She didn't look at it that way.
Anyway, my point is, she was stuck with me and that's all there was to it.
I've been through a divorce and mediation and one thing I know is that they don't let a child decide not to see one of their parents because they don't like being punished or criticized for things.
Going back to mediation may be a good idea. They may suggest some family counseling. I doubt, however, that they would even entertain the idea of undoing an adoption for a teenager who isn't feeling loved. Teenage years can be really tough. Believe me.
My daughter is 24 now and expecting her first baby and guess who she relies on for support and answering her questions? Mom. She has even apologized to me for the bad time she gave me.
This may well be something that can be worked through. Your daughter does need to be able to tell her dad how she feels because their relationship is worth working on. He may not even know that she feels he only sees her out of "obligation" and she may be able to see that she really isn't less favored.

You can't just reverse an adoption. I don't think it's the solution, but that's just my opinion. It's like the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."
I would start with getting some counseling.

Best wishes.



answers from New York on

I don't know if you can "undo" an adoption, but you could revisit the custody agreement, like any other divorce. Legally, I don't know that she can do much without your consent. There have been cases when minors request legal "emancipation" from a parent, which may be what you are referring to.

In this case if you request a review of the decree, the judge will ask her to speak at the hearing b/c of her age and she can state the circumstances and request that she not be required to see him on a regular basis.



answers from Las Vegas on

Have you respectfully asked him? Although I don't sense anything amicable.


answers from Lincoln on

If I were your daughter, that adoption decree wouldn't mean a hill of beans to me in this instance. I'm not putting down anyone elses adoption in the least. But given the circumstances in your situation; it sounds like she can't be unadopted. So from her perspective, I would mentally check out from my so called dad, surround myself with people that actually care about me, not give a rats butt about the adoption and move on. It's a piece of paper. It's not like she is a young child with no opinion and you are just wanting to do this on your own. She is well aware of her circumstances and has a voice that should be heard. Her motto in this instance: "I AM GIRL HEAR ME ROAR!" Good riddance.

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