Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

Why Brad Wants To Adopt Angelina’s Children and Should She Let Him

Today, perhaps more than any other time, there are a lot of single parents in our society. Some are by choice, deciding to have or adopt a child without marrying. Others, in same sex relationships, are legally prohibited from marrying their partners, while others become single parents due to divorce or the death of their spouse.


Whatever the reason, a single parent faces a dilemma when someone new and special comes into his or her life. How do you manage the relationship between your children and your new significant other? Many are reluctant to let their children become seriously entangled with a new sweetheart until confident that the relationship is substantive and long-term.


But, what do you do when your new love announces that he or she wants to adopt your children as his/her own, before and without the two of you being married? Seem farfetched? Let me tell you about this couple I know….let’s call them “Angelina” and “Brad”…that are in just such a situation.


Brad and Angelina have dated seriously and exclusively for several months. Both are recently divorced, yet by all indications, very much in love. Angelina has two adorable young children, both adopted, that Brad has become very attached to, so much so that he recently announced his desire to adopt them and become their father. As far as I know, Brad has not proposed marriage and neither is ready yet to contemplate such a union. Even so, Angelina appears supportive of the adoption. Should she be?


Before looking at this from Angelina’s perspective, let’s explore Brad’s likely motivations. Obviously, he cares deeply about the children and has decided he wants to make a long-term commitment to them. He probably knows that might not be possible without his being declared, officially, as their father, should his relationship with Angelina come to an end.


But, why take this step before marrying Angelina? Isn’t he getting the cart before the horse? I am not sure that he is. Certainly, the two of them would have been wiser to insulate themselves and the children from their love affair until they both were prepared to commit long term. However, by all indications, Brad was heavily involved with the children from the very beginning and now he is where he is—deeply connected. Even if he and Angelina were to marry, he still would not have any official standing with the children until Angelina allowed him to adopt them as his own.


From what I hear, Angelina has an uneven history when it comes to sustaining relationships. Given that, Brad needs clarity about his long-term position with the children. What better way than to seek Angelina’s approval to adopting her children? That will install him permanently in their lives. If Angelina is unwilling to approve, it’s better to know now, before he gets in any deeper with the kids, or their mother.


Should Angelina approve? Only if she wants Brad intimately involved with her children for the rest of time, and even if her relationship with Brad ends. The adoption cannot be undone, although Brad’s parental rights could be terminated if he were to seriously mistreat the children. Otherwise, he is entitled to be involved in their parenting in every way and can sue in court to have those rights enforced should that be necessary.


Next week, I’ll discuss the rights of single parents in Missouri and how they can vary county by county. Lastly, I want to credit my friend and colleague, Allan F. Stewart, for his help in preparing this and next week’s column. He is the foremost expert on adoption that I know.