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Celebrating 30 Years of Service to Families Across Colorado

Let's Talk about Adoption: Stepparent Adoption, Family Member Adoption, Adult Adoption and More


There are several paths to successfully adopting a child in Colorado. You may wish to adopt a niece or nephew, a stepchild, or even a child you have cared for a long time. Colorado has multiple types of Adoptions- Kinship, Stepparent, Custodial, Second Parent, and Adult Adoption. The process varies for each type.

  • Kinship Adoption is an adoption by a family member, specifically a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or cousin.
  • Stepparent Adoption is an adoption by a person married to a biological parent. In Colorado, that marriage may be via a ceremonial or a common-law marriage.
  • Custodial Adoption is an adoption by a person who has cared for a child for at least a year. This arrangement may be an unofficial agreement between the parent(s) and the custodian or an official legal placement through the Department of Human Services, including via guardianship.
  • Second-parent Adoption is when the child has one legal parent, and another qualified adult seeks to adopt a child. This typically occurs with same-sex partners in a civil union rather than marriage or same-sex partners who desire to have a child but are not married. However, there is no restriction that the parties be the same sex to have a Second Parent Adoption or that the desired parents be in a relationship. However, there must be only one legal parent, meaning the other biological parent's rights need to be terminated, or they must never exist, such as through sperm or egg donation. The sole legal parent must consent to adopt, and a home study is required.
  • Adult Adoption is where an individual wants to adopt an adult, and both the adult adoptee and the adopter consent. This typically occurs when the adopter wants the adoptee to inherit or receive benefits from the adopter. If the adult adoption occurs before the adult is 21 years old, the adoptee may change their birth certificate. If the adult adoption occurs after the adoptee is 21 years of age, they will not be eligible to change their birth certificate, but they can still legally change their name.

In most cases, we start with background checks before filing any paperwork with the Court. In Colorado, we obtain three background checks for most adoptions – TRAILS for dependency and neglect matters, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The law does not prohibit a person from adopting due to any criminal offense. However, some criminal offenses may limit your ability to adapt, depending on when the offense occurred and the seriousness of the offense.

The Court may also request a home study of your home depending on the type of adoption you are requesting- this typically occurs in Custodial Adoptions or Kinship Adoptions. To avoid completing a home study, you must request permission and provide good cause.

Once you have completed the paperwork for the adoption and the termination of parental rights, you can file it with the Court. Then, the paperwork is served to the biological parent or parents to notify them of the proceedings. Service can be tricky depending on your particular circumstances. You may not even know where a biological parent is located to hand them the paperwork. In such an event, service may even need to occur through publication-- meaning you place an ad in a newspaper in the county where your matter is located or where the person you are trying to find was last known to be located.

Your matter will be scheduled for a hearing once the paperwork is served. If the biological parents of the child agree or consent to the adoption, the hearing can be relatively straightforward. However, if the biological parents do not consent, you will need to seek to terminate their legal rights and responsibilities. One of the grounds for doing so is by proving that they have abandoned the child for one year preceding the filing of your paperwork or they have failed without cause to support their child for one year preceding the filing of your paperwork. If successful in the termination of the parent-child legal relationship between the biological parent or parents, then the child is available for adoption. Once the child is available for adoption, however, you still must prove to the Court that it is in the best interest of the child to allow you to adopt them.

If you successfully adopt a child, the Court then submits the Report of Adoption to Vital Records to obtain a new birth certificate for the minor child, reflecting that you are now the child’s parent. You also have the option to change the child’s name if you want, and the new birth certificate would include the child’s new legal name.

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