Stepparents should receive more credit than they are often afforded. Many of these people step into a family, accepting an enormous responsibility without really having to. In most cases, stepparents are a large part of a child’s life without being a legal guardian. But nothing brings a family together quite like a stepparent adoption.
When Are Stepparent Adoptions Possible?
In Texas, there are a couple of requirements that must be met before a stepparent adoption will be allowed to proceed:
- The adopting stepparent must be married to the child’s legal parent.
- The other parent must be absent, deceased, indifferent, or unknown. This parent’s legal rights must be terminated to make room for the adopting parent.
What Does the Texas Adoption Process Entail?
Below is a summary of what to expect from the process of adopting a stepchild.
- Filing the Petition – The first step is to file a petition for adoption in family court. Typically, this is the best time to consult with a family law attorney.
- Terminating Parental Rights – As mentioned earlier, one parent’s legal rights may need to be terminated to make room for the adopting parent. This is done through a formal request which asks one parent (assuming they aren’t absent, unknown or deceased) to forfeit their parental rights.
- Evaluations – Once the first two steps are completed, the family must undergo a social study. This means that their living conditions, employment and financial situations will be evaluated to determine whether the adoptive parent is suitable.
- Amicus Attorney – Finally, an amicus attorney will be assigned to the case. They will act as an objective third party, who will make more observations and conduct interviews. Their recommendation will carry a lot of weight with the judge responsible for making the final decision.
Generally, when a stepparent wants to take on a bigger role in the life of their spouse’s child, it’s a wonderful sign. However, there are several checks and balances to ensure that the child’s best interests take priority.