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Mother with two children by two fathers wants to know if her new husband can adopt them

Your Question:
i have two sons both have different fathers they are ages 4 and 2 my oldest sons father was never in his life and is trying to come back now i let him see him a few times and everytime something went wrong he can't keep a job and couch hops so i never allowed overnights my younger sons father never even tries to contact me at all even when he sees us in public he does not come to see his son i am now married to a man in the military he would like to adopt my kids and he is a good father i want to know if i can strip them of their parental rights and if i can't can i move out of state with my husband for the military without full custody of some kind.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

In your additional emails, you wrote:

  • The father of your older boy has only seen the child a handful of times. The child calls your husband "Dad" and calls his biological father by his first name.

  • The older boy's father has another child who is in the custody of child services. The child was removed from the mother, and child services won't release custody to your husband.

So, here's the deal... you obviously picked lousy guys with whom to have kids, as I'm sure you'll agree. You describe your husband as a good man and good father. I hope that's the case, because these kids need stability and consistency for the next 15 years or so.

I'm going to assume that you weren't married to either of the fathers.

You should be able to move without a problem, if what you're describing is the complete picture. I would suggest that you plan your move before planning any adoption. Unless there are court orders existing that give either father any custody or visitation, you are free to move and you don't need the court's permission.

If there are court orders existing that give either father custody or visitation, then you should notify that father of your intent to move. 45 days notice is plenty. Then, it's up to the father to go to court to try to stop you. But if the older kid's father is behind in child support, he doesn't have much chance of a court taking him too seriously. If he files something trying to block you, you can just file for contempt on non-payment of child support. He may be interested in dropping his action if you drop yours.

I'm normally a strong advocate AGAINST move-aways because it rips kids away from parents. But, you describe that you picked two losers as fathers, and neither one is bonded with their respective children. In light of that, it seems best for the two kids to put long-distance between that mess and the stability you're now trying to create with your husband.

I think that once you're in a new community and settled, and your husband has been around for another year or two, that would be a sensible time to start the adoption process.

I would imagine that your husband should be able to adopt your younger son without much difficulty. It will require the father to relinquish his parental rights, which it sounds like he should do willingly and voluntarily. Then, he's done forever. If he doesn't give up his rights, then he should be paying you child support, and you may want to get orders for that. That could encourage him to give up the rights that you claim he has completely ignored for 2+ years.

I think the older kid's biological father is the more difficult thing. You describe him mostly as a messed-up guy, but not a mean guy. It's unfortunate that he's missing the opportunity to help raise his child. I waffle on keeping the door open, in the event that he cleans up his act.

I've heard that a court will not strip parental rights unless a parent has shown NO interest in the child (e.g., your younger son) or if the court is convinced that a parent cannot ever become a good parent. So, you may have a more difficult fight there, if the older boy's father still wants to be involved (at whatever minimal level).

That said... in reality, your husband is raising these boys, and I hope you have a wonderful marriage that will last throughout their childhood. Also, in reality, you have sole custody (i.e., called "de facto"). You may not currently have a piece of paper saying both those things, but in reality, it's already occurring. So don't worry too much about official titles and official papers.

So, for the older boy, I encourage you to think really hard about completely severing the tie to the biological father. It may be enough for you and your husband to KNOW who is daddy, without causing tremendous pain to the biological father. That's a decision only you and your husband can make.

Of course, you can always offer to the older kid's dad that you'll keep him connected to the child as much as what's occurred in the past... and he eliminates the burden of child support if he lets your husband adopt the kid. Maybe he'll go for that, and then you can control the contact between him and your son to occur only when the father has his head on straight and his act together.

Tough call either way.

Good luck with everything.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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