Normally a step-parent can adopt the minor child(ren) of a spouse, as default matter (meaning, nothing is disputed or contested) provided the other parent (the ‘non-custodial parent’) consents in writing to the adoption. There are cases, however, when the other parent refuses to give consent, or, cannot be located at all. In such cases, the adoption can still go ahead, provided that the adoptive stepparent can prove that the noncustodial parent has abandoned the child, and therefore forfeited the right to contest the adoption. A parent who has abandoned his/her child, is not entitled to any notice of the adoption at all. If, for example, a non-custodial parent has not had contact with the minor child for an extended period of time, or failed to provide any financial support for the child, the adoptive stepparent can seek a termination of the non-custodial parent’s rights. The parent who has abandoned the child, and in so doing, demonstrated an intention to forsake the duties of parenthood, risks having parental rights terminated and losing the right to even be notified of the adoption. For example, a parent who makes no effort to have contact with his or her child for a year, and, has not contributed to the child’s need for food, clothing or shelter, can be deemed to have abandoned the minor child, thereby forfeiting the parent’s right to notice of the adoption proceeding and the opportunity to give consent.

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