Kansas Stepparent Adoption Laws

Nearly one million children a year become stepchildren. In most states, stepparents have no clearly defined legal right or obligations regarding stepchildren. Elrod, Kansas Family Law Handbook 6.021, p. 6-3 (1990). If both natural parents are still living, a stepparent adoption involves terminating only one of the natural parent's rights. The rights of the parent whose spouse is adopting the children remain intact. K.S.A. 59-2118(b) provides that "upon adoption, all the rights of birth parents to the adopted person, including their right to inherit from or through the person, shall cease, except the rights of a birth parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent." The Kansas statutes encourage stepparent adoptions in hopes of continuing a family unit which in most cases is conducive to a child's well-being. See State v. Williams, 259 Kan. 432, 446, 913 P.2d 587, cert. denied 519 U.S. 829, 136 L. Ed. 2d 49, 117 S. Ct. 94 (1996). Similarly, a district judge must have discretion to control the method of how it will proceed in related cases. Judicial discretion is abused when no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the trial court. McKissick v. Frye, 255 Kan. 566, 577, 876 P.2d 1371 (1994). Generally, our standard of review in adoption cases is to determine whether there is substantial competent evidence to support the trial court's findings. In re Adoption of K.J.B., 265 Kan. 90, 95, 959 P.2d 853 (1998). Substantial evidence is evidence which possesses both relevance and substance and which furnishes a substantial basis of fact from which the issues can reasonably be resolved. Sampson v. Sampson, 267 Kan. 175, 181, 975 P.2d 1211 (1999).