teptep-parent adoptions are happy occasions in most instances, however, there are many steps that are involved in order to have the adoption granted. It may seem simple to do a step-parent adoption, especially if the other biological parent is in agreement or is no longer present, however, there are very specific steps that must be followed in order to accomplish this goal. The steps below assume the biological parent is no longer present. If the other biological parent is still alive, then the adoption process is more complex and requires additional steps.
1. Hire an attorney
I put this here as step one because it is absolutely crucial that you hire an attorney to handle this for you. Not every situation requires an attorney, but an adoption is not a simple task and you really need the assistance of an attorney to guide you through the process. The attorney will know the particulars for the court and the process involved. Ultimately hiring an attorney will save you a LOT of time and headache over trying to do this yourself.
2. File Petition for Adoption
The next step is to file the petition for adoption. In order for a step-parent to adopt the spouse (biological parent) must join in the petition and consent to the adoption. Depending on the age of the child, the child may need to consent to the adoption as well.
3. Home Study
Depending on where you live will depend on who can perform the home study for you. A court will typically order that a home study be performed. In Harris County, these are usually done by the Domestic Relations Office, but it may be that a private home study could be done as well. A home study will involve having someone come out to your house, meet with you and your family, inspect your house to make sure it is a suitable environment for the child, and then write a report for the court. This process can take a few weeks to coordinate.
4. Amicus Attorney
Depending on the court you are in you may have to have an Amicus Attorney appointed for the child. An Amicus Attorney is there to guide the court on whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The Amicus will likely come out to your home and meet with you and your family. The Amicus will also take time to meet with the child and discuss his/her wants and desires. All of this is done to ensure that this is the best for this particular child.
5. Background Check
The parent wishing to adopt must have a background check performed. There is a specific process used in all Courts in Texas and you must go through that particular method to have the background check performed. Your attorney will know where to send you to have this done.
6. Final Hearing
Once all of the above steps have been completed, then you will have a hearing in front of the Judge for the Judge to determine if it is in the best interest of the child to have the step-parent adopt him/her. Typically families will bring other family members to court to join in the celebration. The Judge may ask questions of you and the child. Your attorney will ask a few questions of each of you to help the Judge determine whether it is in this child’s best interest to allow the step-parent to adopt. The Amicus Attorney will let the court know what his/her opinion. If the Judge agrees that it is in the best interest then the Judge will grant the adoption.