“Working with my clients on step parent adoption brings so me so much joy.” – Thomas P. Jackson.
In many situations, there is a estranged or disengaged father or mother who cannot support their child in any way. Many times the custodial parent remarries and, honorably, the step parent wishes to adopt the child in what is called a step-parent adoption.
Adoption is a legal process where a biological parent’s rights are terminated and an adopting parent takes that person’s place. The relationship between the biological parent and the child is severed and in their place, an adult adopts the child and become the child’s parent with all the same rights and duties as any other parent. What makes a step-parent adoption different from a regular adoption is that only one biological parent is terminated and one biological parent will remain a parent.
The Step Parent Adoption Process
Step parent adoption is both a termination procedure and an adoption. Essentially two lawsuits in one. However, the step-parent adoption is more streamlined and more efficient than a regular family adoption. A number of the obstacles for a regular adoption are not required in a step-parent adoption.
- STEP 1 – Termination of the Biological Parent Relationship
This is usually done by an Affidavit to Terminate the Parent Child Relationship signed by the natural parent. In addition, the termination of the biological parent may be involuntary. The grounds for involuntary termination are set out in Chapter 161 of the Texas Family Code. An involuntary termination will dramatically complicate the step-parent adoption. Note also, the parent whose rights will be involuntarily terminated has the right to a jury trial on this issue. This will further complicate the step-parent adoption if they request a jury. The best and easiest step-parent adoption is the one where the biological parent signs off on an Affidavit to Terminate the Parent Child Relationship. The affidavit must be witnessed by two credible persons and verified before a notary.
- STEP 2 – The Step Parent Adoption
The adoption begins by filing a petition to terminate the biological parent and adoption of the step-parent. The court is then presented with several orders which authorize a pre-adoptive social study and a post-placement social study for evaluation. This required investigation allows the court to check the facts and circumstances surrounding the adoption. The court appointed social study investigator will produce a written report of her study. The report is filed with the court and given to the adoptive parent prior to the court hearing. The court will also order the adoptive parent to perform a criminal history background check.A court appearance is a required step in the adoption. Most families view the adoption as a ceremonial and celebrated event. Most judges are going to make this a memorable occasion. After presentation of the testimony, the Judge will then sign an order terminating the biological parent and granting adoption of step-children.