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Can I adopt my stepchild if his or her absent biological parent will not consent?

Millions of stepparents across the country are raising their stepchildren. Adopting a stepchild can be a wonderful way to create a permanent legal bond. Stepparent adoptions are the most common form of adoption and the adoption process can be completed far quicker than other forms of adoption. If you are starting off in the stepparent adoption process, read on below to find out more about the steps you must take in Texas.

Stepparent Adoption Basics

Stepparent adoptions occur when the spouse of a biological parent petitions the court for permission to be granted legal parental rights of their spouse’s child through adoption. A stepparent adoption serves to recognize the adopted child as fully and legally the child of the stepparent.Adopted stepchildren will obtain a new birth certificate, be able to take the stepparent’s last name, if desired, and qualify to inherit from the adoptive parent.

In order for the stepparent adoption to proceed, one of the following must exist:

  • The child has only one living biological parent; or

  • The absent biological parent agrees with the stepparent and will sign consent for the adoption; or

  • The absent biological parent is not in the child’s life either by choice or due to the inability to locate the parent.

The Adoption Process

Stepparent adoptions in Texas will require that two steps be fulfilled. First, the rights of the absent biological parent must be terminated, if they are living, and next to the adoption can be completed by the spouse of the remaining parent. Termination of parental rights can occur through either consent or court order.

In the best of circumstances, the absent biological parent will sign an affidavit that relinquishes his or her parental rights. The other biological parent must consent. Termination of parental rights is a permanent and serious step, as it will sever the parent’s rights to see the child. A biological parent that is not in the child’s life may agree to such a step.

Where the other parent refuses or cannot be located, the court will need to weigh the matter and determine whether it is in the child’s best interests to have the parental rights severed so that the stepparent adoption can move forward. With this step complete, the adoption can proceed.

You will need to file a joint petition for adoption with your spouse. You must comply with a social study, which will involve an evaluation of your home, employment, and the like. Additionally, you and your child will be interviewed by an Amicus attorney to ensure the adoption is in the child’s best interests. With all necessary steps competed, you will have a hearing in court to complete the adoption and make it official.