Stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of a parent. There must be a death or termination of parental rights of the other parent. Wisconsin statutes allow a spouse who lives with both the child and the parent with custody of the child to adopt the child.

The process of adopting a step child will usually involve four steps:

  1. Termination of Parental Rights*
  2. Petition to adopt and order for investigation
  3. The agency investigation
  4. The hearing on the adoption

*Typically you will need to retain an attorney to assist with the Termination of Parental Rights. Catholic Charities can assist with the investigation and will provide the court the assessment in the form of a Court Report. Please note that the investigation typically takes three months to complete and we HIGHLY recommend starting your assessment prior to scheduling a court hearing.

Telling The Truth To Your Child

It is recommended and required in some counties, that you have an attorney to assist you with the termination of parental rights and adoption process. It is important for you to find an attorney who is familiar with the complex legal issues present in adoption to ensure your adoption is completed correctly and there is less room for error. There are several attorneys in the State of Wisconsin who have the experience necessary to assist you in the adoption process. Here are some that Catholic Charities utilizes for cases.

Step Parent Adoption

Attorney Resources

Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) is an organization of attorneys who are dedicated to competent and ethical practices in adoption.

Attorney Joseph Skemp, Jr. of Moen Sheehan Meyer is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin and has over 20 years of adoption related experience. Attorney Skemp can be reached at 608-784-8310.

Grady, Hayes, & Nearly, LLC has several attorneys who are knowledgeable about the adoption process. Grady, Hayes, & Nearly, LLC is located in Waukesha, Wisconsin and can be reached by calling 262-347-2001.

Attorney Stella Pagonis is located in Eau Claire and has well over 25 years of family related and adoption experience. Attorney Pagonis can be reached at 715-835-5007 or