In Texas, adopting your stepchild is possible, but you cannot do so without the consent of both biological parents – unless one parent is deceased, unfit, or has already terminated their parental rights. As such, stepchild adoption cases in The Lone Star State typically play out as adoption and termination of parental rights cases.
If you are interested in adopting your stepchild, your first step will be talking to both your spouse and the child’s other biological parent. Without the consent of both biological parents, you cannot adopt your stepchild. While your spouse may be able to file a termination of parental rights case for a variety of reasons, you cannot do so on your own. Together, you and your spouse may ask the court to terminate parental rights but only if the other parent abandoned the child, is unfit to be a parent, or is not the biological father (this situation only applies when the other parent is male).
Children 12 years of age or older must also consent to the adoption in court, so if your older stepchild does not wish to be adopted, you cannot adopt them unless the court decides the adoption is in the child’s best interest.
Stepparent Adoption with Consent
Assuming you have everyone’s consent, you, your spouse, your stepchild, and the child’s other parent must all appear in court. Stepparent adoption cases are typically easier than other adoption cases, but the court must still decide that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. The judge will also determine whether you have satisfied the requirements for adoption, and you may have to complete a social study and background check – as well as many other forms – before you appear in court.
Due to all the paperwork, filing, and potential conflict that may arise, you should hire an attorney to help you through this legal process. Your attorney can also prepare you to appear in court and help make sure your adoption goes through.
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