You may already think of your stepchildren as your own kids. It doesn’t take long for someone who is legally part of your family to become a meaningful part of your life. You may even help provide for your stepchild and want to support them later in life, such as when they go to college.
Being a stepparent means there are limitations on your rights. You could even find yourself losing touch with your stepchild if your relationship with their parent ever ends. A stepparent adoption can give you formal rights when it comes to parenting time and the biggest decisions about your stepchild.
However, stepparent adoptions typically require an extra step not necessary in other kinds of adoption.
You may need to terminate the right of the other parent
In any adoption, the person hoping to become a legal parent will first have to meet certain criteria set by the adoption agency involved and the state. They have to submit paperwork to the court and may have to attend courses before they can adopt.
Although you will need to take those steps too, there is something else you need to do first. You likely realize that you need your spouse’s approval to adopt their child, so you will have to have a conversation about your intentions. Your spouse isn’t the only one who needs to agree to the adoption.
If the other parent of your stepchild is still alive, you will need their consent as well to proceed with the adoption. Unless Texas has already terminated their parental rights, they will have to voluntarily end their rights. If they agree to allow the adoption, you can then move forward with the necessary court process.
Why would a parent give up their parental rights?
Even the most uninvolved parents might still dislike the idea of terminating their legal relationship with their children.
However, you and your spouse may be able to work around their objections by agreeing to still allow occasional visitation, even if they don’t have decision-making authority or shared custody rights anymore. They may also appreciate how giving up their parental rights might also end their child support obligations.
Knowing the steps involved in a stepparent adoption can help you text your relationship with your stepchild by taking a more formal role in their life.