My Fiance Wants to Adopt My Daughter When We Get Married What Are the Laws?

Updated on June 02, 2014
L.B. asks from Decatur, GA
12 answers

I am originally from Oklahoma City but live in Atlanta Georgia. My fiancé wants to adopt my daughter when we get married. her biological father has never been in her life and his name isn't on her birth certificate but she has his last name. I have received medicade assistance from the government and named him as the absent father. I have never applied for her birth certificate before. she is now about to enter into kindergarten and I am going to have to now do so. I was wanting to know if my fiancé can now sign her birth certificate and change her last name or will he still have to go through the process of adoption? Would we have to go to the state she was born in to do this?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the information! My daughter is now 4 will be 5 in August and the biological father had decided to leave after knowing about my daughter being born and I did try to contact him several times as well as his family members but after a year of trying and no response I had no choice but to get help with her medical bills she had very bad asthma and was in and out of the hospital. Don't get me wrong I have worked all my life and never need assistance from the government before until then. and I put his last name as hers without him signing the birth certificate because I thought he was going to sign it and that's why she have his last name. I moved to Georgia 2011 and told his family members about the move so I am not hiding and I put him down for the absent parent when I applied for medical assistance. thanks again hope that clears up the questions to the whys??????

More Answers


answers from Richland on

He has to legally adopt her to change her last name.

She has a birth certificate you just don't have a copy of it. You will need a copy before he can apply to adopt her but that can be done in the state you currently live.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Both the adoption and the last name change need to go through court. A name change can be processed with an adoption but you can do it prior to that if you want to. If I were you, I would register her with her current, legal last name and then wait until you're married to change it if you choose to. My step-daughter's last name has been changed twice since she started school.

As the others have stated, just because you never got a copy of her birth certificate doesn't mean that she doesn't have one. That was already completed and filed by hospital when she was born. Your fiance won't be able to be added to an amended birth certificate without adopting her and getting a court order that allows for the amendment.

If you have been in GA for more than 6 months, then you can file the paperwork there. Her father will have to be served with notification of the intent to terminate his parents rights, intent to adopt and the intent to change her name and he will be given time and opportunity to file a response either agreeing or disagreeing. If you can't find him, you'll need to prove that to the court and go through public notification steps. Your best case scenario is to track him down and get him to respond to the notices with his agreement (that kind of agreement must be notarized). Your worst case scenario is that he fights you on it and this gets dragged to court, in which case you'll have to argue for an involuntary termination of his rights due to abandonment, failure to support, etc.

After his rights are terminated, you have to then petition the court for the adoption. This approval may include some kind of cursory home study and/or meet with a social worker (to make sure the adoptive parent isn't a predator and that you're not being coerced into this) as well.

If the adoption is approved, then you would get an adoption certificate and the court can order that the birth certificate be amended, if your state allows that.

Call your local probate and family court and ask if there is an info packet that can be mailed to your or that you can pick up.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

She has a birth certificate with the father listed as unknown (why you would do that is your business but really it served no purpose since you applied for benefits). You can't go back and change the birth certificate naming your fiance as her father.

You can adopt in GA however in order for this to happen you have to make attempts to contact her bio father for permission. This involves sending certified letters and placing ads in newspapers that cover the area you believe he lives in. A certain time period is given and if he doesn't respond then the court takes it that he no longer wants to have parental rights. Or he can respond that he is ok that his rights are being taken away. If he decides that he doesn't want to give up his rights then you adoption can't happen.

If he does not want to give up his rights then I would suggest a dna test. It might plant a seed of doubt in his mind and he may decide to just sign the papers.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Not legally. This is NOT his child. The only way you can do this is to get the biological dad to surrender his rights. You can do that right now pretty easy.

When he gets the letter saying he has to do the paternity testing and start paying child support it's a really vulnerable time. Either he's going to fight it and say she's not his...blah blah blah or he's going to want to start a relationship with her.

If he doesn't want to pay child support PLUS all the back child support they'll try and make him pay you have leverage. Tell him you'll drop the support, forgive him, all the past and everything if he goes to the OKC court house and terminates his parental rights.

You can't just pretend he doesn't exist. He can come back in at any time in her life and press charges against you for not allowing him to see her. He can claim you left the state and he couldn't find you. That he wanted to see his child and because you took her away he couldn't. Cover yourself. Do it the legal way. The state might even be able to help you do this through the child support enforcement office but I don't know. It shouldn't be horrible expensive to get the rights terminated.

If you have money to do a formal adoption then you should spend that money to take care of first things first. Terminate the father's rights first.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

He will have to do this through the court. The regular adoption process. You will have to search for her father so that his rights are terminated.

Your daughter can use any last name you choose when registering for school. My granddaughter's school has accepted 3 different last names throughout the years. At her first registration her mom hyphenated her legal name on the birth certificate with the new name.

Call the county courthouse and ask for the office that handles adoption. They will tell you the laws and the process.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't think your fiance can just sign the birth certificate now, especially since you have a child support case against another man. I think you are going to have to terminate the parental rights of the bio father and then your daughter can be adopted by your fiance.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Call family court and ask.
I'd bet that the father will need to give up his parental rights before your stb husband can adopt.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

You'll have to go through the courts for a step parent adoption. Look into GA law, but here in Indiana you have to be married for at least a year before you can apply for an adoption. It should be pretty straight forward when you do have it done, though. Did the father sign anything regarding being the father? Here in IN when you're not married you have to sign something (affidavit) that States you accept parental responsibility. This occurs at the time of signing the BC. It pretty much provides the legal backdrop to any future child support or custody issues. If he never signed anything like that then I'm not sure how the adoption would be affected.

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answers from Dallas on

I am sure it can be done but you may be opening a can of worms if someone up the line suspects you purposely took benefits from the government if you weren't supposed to. I'd make sure my rear was covered and everything I had done as far as receiving benefits were on the up and up. How old is this child and how long have you been receiving benefits. Also, be aware that your benefits will more than likely go away when you make this change.

That said, yes she has a birth certificate and you need to file papers to get a copy. Your fiancé can't simply fill in the blank with his name ... it is not that easy.

You have to try to tack down bio dad and he has to sign away his rights. This could take a lot of time. I don't understand why or how you did things the way you did unless it was specifically in order to get benefits.

Your best bet is to speak with legal counsel to see what the best route for you to take would be in this situation. Laws vary from state to state so you may be need legal counsel for more than 1 state.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

The biological father has to surrender his rights, and the soon-to-be step-father would have to adopt her as a step-father adoption. Do it right for sure. Especially since you already named the bio father as an absentee father and it's documented. Don't mess with Medicaid.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

To Diane: If he doesn't sign the bc, he'll be put as unknown. This is the GOVT's fault not hers because he HAS to sign acknowledgement of paternity if not married. Duh, seriously.
Anyhow, you can't amend the bc like that although it would make things so much easier.. besides, if he doesn't respond in time or you can't find him then atleast you won't have to worry about fighting him on it. Not sure on time limit though..
She can't have him sign away his rights yet- not until she is ready to do the adoption.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Athens on

Absent or not, he is still the father. You will need his permission to have her adopted. Even if you want to change her last name, you will need it. My daughter changed her last name as soon as she turned 18. If I had known better, I would have included her name change in the divorce.

You can't do this without a lawyer. So if you plan on going forward you need to get one.

Congrats on the engagement.

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