Blended families are the new normal, with The Stepfamily Foundation pointing out that in modern American society most families are the result of divorce and remarriage. According to estimates on the relationship of minors in households to householders, there were 2,366,554 stepchildren and 1,440,477 adopted children (a number of which are most likely former stepchildren) in the U.S. in 2018. That same year Texas alone had approximately 267,026 of the former and 137,953 of the latter.
If you accepted your partner’s offspring fully into your life and love and view them, you may be eager to adopt them to gain legal acknowledgment of your relationship. However, there are requirements you need to be aware of before starting proceedings.
1. Termination of the biological parent’s parental rights
You must obtain a court order terminating the parental rights of the parent that is not your spouse. This applies even if said individual voluntarily consents to give up the rights; a judge must sign off on any affidavit signed to make it official. Depending on the court, you may be able to file for both termination and adoption at the same time. If the biological parent in question is dead this is unnecessary.
2. A court hearing
You and your spouse must appear in court. If your stepchild is at least 12 years of age, they must accompany you. You may apply to the court to waive this requirement if you believe it is in your stepchild’s best interests.
3. The child’s residency with you for a period
Your stepchild must live with you a minimum of six months before adoption. They must also agree to the adoption if they are 12 or older.
Note that these are not all the requirements you must meet, but they are vital to keep in mind.