Living with your spouse’s biological child and acting as his or her parent probably feels completely natural to you. However, the emotional and psychological bond you share with the child is not a legal one, and that can cause a number of issues.

If you want to make the connection legal through stepparent adoption, there are certain elements that have to line up.

The six-month mark is important

You cannot get married and immediately adopt. Ohio law requires you to be married for six months before you can begin the adoption process. In addition, the child must be living with you and your spouse for six months.

Biological parents must consent

Perhaps at this stage, your spouse is already eager for you to officially become a parent. The other biological parent’s consent is still important, though, particularly because that person will be giving up parental rights.

If the other parent is not in the picture, you may be able to sidestep the need for consent. The courts may determine consent is not necessary if the other parent has failed to communicate with the child or support him or her.

A home study is necessary

The home study involves a lot more than a social worker appearing at your residence to inspect it and interview you, your spouse and the child, although those are components of the process. The point is to show that the child will have a safe and secure home with you. You will need to provide references, financial statements and family background information. You will also need to undergo a physical exam and a criminal background check.

Stepparent adoption is for same-sex spouses

Even though you may have been your child’s parent since conception, you may not have had the option to put your name on the birth certificate. You can ensure full legal parenthood through adoption. There is not an Ohio adoption law specifically for same-sex parent adoption, but the stepparent adoption procedure is a viable solution as long as you have met all the requirements.