Over 7 million children live in stepfamilies, which comprise about 15 percent of all American children. Given that there are only about 2 million adopted children in the nation, this makes it seem that very few people adopt their stepchildren.
The adoption of stepchildren tends to be more prevalent in families in which the adopter is a stepfather. And children are more content, in most studies, with their biological mother and her partner instead of in a home with a stepmother.
The greatest benefit of adopting your spouse's children is the sense of unity and permanency it gives to a family that may have already experienced a divided household. There are also financial benefits, such as the children will be legally bound to you in the event that something happens to you or your spouse. The child will also get a new birth certificate, which will require the child's permission if he or she is over the age of 10. This can be highly symbolic as well as practical in the long-run.
Some disadvantages of adopting a stepchild may include feelings of guilt or betrayal within the child to his or her noncustodial biological parent. The noncustodial parent would also no longer pay child support and in the event of another divorce the adoptive stepparent would then have to take on that responsibility.
Noncustodial biological parents may also choose to interfere with the adoption, which can bring about rounds of legal sparring and can be an emotionally draining situation for the family.