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Houston Adoptions Lawyer

Beginning the journey of adopting a child within your family or taking on the role of a step child’s legal parent is a deeply loving and significant step. Whether it’s grandparents stepping in to provide a nurturing home, an aunt or uncle assuming parental roles or a stepparent solidifying their bond with a stepchild, it’s a process of legal steps and commitment. The thought of giving a child a stable and loving environment can be both exhilarating and daunting. With the right guidance, the adoption process can be a rewarding experience that fortifies familial bonds and provides a child with a forever home.

If you’re considering adoption, The Farias Law Firm is here to light the way. Our compassionate and experienced team understands the nuances of family and stepchild adoption in Houston. We’re committed to supporting you at every stage, ensuring that your adoption journey is as smooth as possible. 

For a consultation and to take the first step towards bringing your child into the fold of your legal family, call us at 713-804-6217 today.

Understanding Family Member and Stepchild Adoption in Houston

Adoption is a legal process that creates a new parent-child relationship. This process can take various forms, but some common types of adoption include:

  • Stepparent adoptions, which accounted for half of all private adoptions in 2020
  • Relative adoptions, where a family member adopts another family member’s child
  • International adoptions, where a child is adopted from another country
  • Foster care adoptions, where a child in the foster care system is adopted by a family

Whether you’re a relative seeking to adopt a family member’s child or a stepparent wanting to solidify your relationship with your spouse’s child, understanding the specifics of adoption in Houston is critical.

Family member and stepchild adoptions, while similar in some aspects, have distinct characteristics. This includes the nature of the pre-existing relationship with the child, the legal procedures involved, and the implications for the child’s biological parents. 

Guidance from an experienced family law attorney from The Farias Law Firm is indispensable in both processes, as they can help explain the Texas laws and help guarantee the child’s best interests.

Family Member Adoption

A family member or ‘kinship’ adoption is a form of adoption where a relative assumes full parental responsibilities when the biological parents are unable to care for their child. 

This can include:

  • Grandparents
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Siblings

When one decides to take on the responsibility of becoming a child’s legal parent, they are stepping into the role of one of the child’s legal parents, which may involve considering the other parent’s parental rights. In this situation, a parent-child relationship exists.

Adopting a family member involves legally transitioning the child into the adoptive family’s care, securing the adoptive parent’s ability to make significant life decisions for the child, including educational and medical choices. While this type of adoption can be emotionally challenging, it often provides the child with a sense of stability within a familiar family unit.

Stepchild Adoption

Stepchild adoption is another form of adoption that carries significant legal and emotional implications. It serves to legally recognize the stepparent’s role as a parental figure in the child’s life. This form of adoption is common in Houston, with court processes in place to grant a stepparent parental rights and responsibilities over their spouse’s child, often motivated by the desire to deepen the familial bond and ensure the child’s future security.

In a stepchild adoption, the stepparent’s spouse (the biological parent) retains their parental rights, meaning the child maintains a legal bond with both biological parents if the other parent is the stepparent’s spouse. The child must also reside with the stepparent for at least six months before the adoption can be granted, although this requirement can be waived under certain circumstances.

Adopting a stepchild when the other biological parent is still in the picture is possible, but it involves additional legal considerations. The non-custodial parent’s rights must be addressed, as they typically retain parental rights even if they are not the primary caregiver. For the adoption to move forward, the non-custodial parent must either voluntarily relinquish their parental rights or have their rights terminated by the court.

In cases where the non-custodial parent consents to the adoption, they can execute an Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment, which is then filed with the court. If the non-custodial parent is contesting the adoption, the court will consider the best interests of the child, including their emotional and developmental needs, before deciding on whether to terminate the non-custodial parent’s rights and allow the adoption to proceed.

Guardian Adoption

Guardian adoption is a unique and compassionate form of adoption where a legally assigned guardian steps forward to adopt a child, creating a permanent familial bond, even in the absence of a biological relationship. This process often comes into play when a child’s biological parents are unable to care for them, and a guardian has been appointed to ensure the child’s well-being.

In Houston, guardian adoption allows individuals who have been granted legal guardianship over a child to take the next step and become the child’s adoptive parent. This legal transformation is significant as it moves the child from a state of temporary care under guardianship to a permanent, secure family setting through adoption.

Guardian adoption is a profound declaration of love and responsibility. It provides the child with continuity, stability, and the emotional security of a permanent home, which are essential for their growth and development. It’s a noble path that confirms the guardian’s dedication to the child’s future, ensuring they are raised in a loving and nurturing environment.

Criteria for Family Member and Stepchild Adoption in Houston

When considering family member or stepchild adoption in Houston, certain criteria must be met. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old, provide personal references, offer a stable home, and ensure they are healthy enough to care for the child.

Additional criteria specific to stepparent and family member adoption include the termination of parental rights, a home study, and, for children aged 12 or older, their consent.

Fulfilling these criteria is not only a legal requirement but also pivotal in guaranteeing the child’s well-being. Ultimately, the main objective of any adoption process should be the provision of a safe, nurturing, and stable environment that fosters the child’s growth and development.

Termination of Parental Rights

A key step in both family member and stepchild adoptions is the termination of a parent’s parental rights. This is required either through the court or automatically in cases where the parents are deceased. 

Termination of parental rights, or in some cases, the decision to terminate the parent-child relationship, may be based on a variety of grounds, including:

  • Abandonment
  • Failure to provide support
  • Incarceration
  • Abuse
  • Voluntary relinquishment

The termination of the biological parent’s rights is a key stage in the adoption process. It ensures the legal recognition of the adoptive parent’s role and is often the first significant step in securing the adoption of a stepchild or family member.

Home Study

A home study is an integral part of the adoption process. It serves to:

  • Verify that the adoption is in the best interest of the child
  • Assess the readiness of the adoptive parents, whether stepparent or relative, to raise and care for the child
  • Involve a neutral third-party evaluator in assessing the suitability of the adoptive environment
  • Ensure the well-being and best interests of the child are being met in the prospective home.

In situations where the adoption process is uncontested and the prospective parent has a clear criminal history, the court has the discretion to waive the home study requirement. This flexibility ensures that the process is as efficient as possible while still prioritizing the child’s welfare.

Child Consent

Child consent is another critical aspect of the adoption process in Texas. If the child is 12 years or older, they are legally required to give consent for their adoption. This consent can be given either in writing or personally stated in court. Involving the child in this decision-making process is essential to ensure their comfort and acceptance of the upcoming changes in their life.

The Role of the Amicus Attorney in the Adoption Process

The amicus attorney plays a crucial role in the adoption process. Appointed by a judge, the amicus attorney acts as a friend of the court and is responsible for representing the child’s best interests. They conduct thorough investigations by:

  • Delving into the social study’s findings
  • Interviewing the child
  • Interviewing the stepparent
  • Interviewing other significant individuals in the child’s life

Following their investigation, the amicus attorney compiles a report that includes a recommendation to the court about the suitability of the adoption to ensure the child’s best interests are served. This role is vital in enabling the child’s voice to be heard and their welfare to be prioritized throughout the adoption process.

The Legal Process of Family Member and Stepchild Adoption in Houston

Having a clear understanding of the legal process of family member and stepchild adoption in Houston is vital for an easier transition. The process begins with the stepparent filing a petition to the Texas court to request the stepparent adoption in Texas of a stepchild. This petition includes essential details covering the legal significance of the adoption, the requirements, and the costs involved.

Usually, the ‘respondent’ in the stepchild adoption process includes the living parent whose parental rights are set to be terminated, as well as other individuals who maintain a court-ordered relationship with the child. Having the legal representation of a knowledgeable attorney from The Farias Law Firm can greatly simplify this complex process. 

Once the adoption is finalized, the stepchild is entitled to various benefits such as participating in school activities, receiving government benefits, and obtaining medical treatments without the need for separate consent from the biological parent. 

The legal assistance provided by The Farias Law Firm ensures that the adoption process is easier, significantly reducing the potential stress and obstacles that can arise when attempting to handle such legal matters without professional assistance.

Filing Petitions

Filing a petition with the assistance of The Farias Law Firm is the first step in the legal process of adoption. The petition, prepared by our experienced attorneys, initiates the legal proceedings and sets the stage for the subsequent steps. A stepparent who is the legal guardian of a child under 18 has the right to start the process of stepparent adoption. This allows the stepparent, with The Farias Law Firm’s guidance, to legally adopt the child and become their legal parent. The process varies depending on the existence of a parent-child relationship with the non-spousal biological parent.

If the other biological parent does not consent to the adoption, The Farias Law Firm can take legal action to terminate their parental rights. This often requires demonstrating valid reasons such as abandonment, lack of support, or abuse. 

An Affidavit of Relinquishment, carefully drafted by our legal professionals, must be completed, including details of the child or children involved, a statement of understanding by the relinquishing parent, and the intended managing conservator.

Court Hearings

Court hearings hold a pivotal role in the adoption process, and having The Farias Law Firm by your side can make all the difference. The judge’s considerations before granting an adoption order include:

  • The stepparent’s relationship with the child and biological parents
  • The stepparent’s motivations for adopting
  • Other relevant factors involving the child’s age, physical and emotional needs, and current living situation.

Stepparent adoption cases in Houston require court hearings, which can range from a single brief hearing to multiple hearings and a trial if the adoption is contested. 

The stepparent, their spouse, and the child (if 12 years or older) must all attend the adoption hearing. It’s a mandatory requirement for the process. If the child cannot attend, they may provide a written statement of their consent.

The Farias Law Firm provides invaluable assistance during these hearings, ensuring that all legal procedures are followed and the stepparent’s case is presented effectively. Our experienced attorneys can help articulate the motivations for adopting and demonstrate how the adoption serves the child’s best interests.


The finalization of the adoption process is a significant moment. It’s when the stepparent officially becomes the child’s legal parent, with the authority to make important decisions for the child’s future. 

This step in a relative adoption involves a court hearing, which may consolidate the termination of parental rights and the finalization of the adoption if the termination is not contested.

Upon finalization, the adopted child’s birth certificate can be updated, reflecting their new legal family status. Throughout this significant phase, The Farias Law Firm can provide invaluable assistance, guiding you through the legal intricacies and advocating for your family’s interests in court. Our team ensures that the transition into your legal family is recognized with the full legal and emotional support that it merits.

Contact The Farias Law Firm to Help with Your Family Member or Stepchild Adoption

The Farias Law Firm possesses extensive experience in the legal processes involved in stepparent and family member adoptions in Texas. Our attorneys provide essential guidance through all steps of the complex legal system, ensuring procedural requirements are met for stepchild adoptions.

We recognize that each adoption case is unique and necessitates tailored legal counsel. As part of our commitment to our clients, we are prepared to pursue negotiations, mediation, and, if necessary, court proceedings to finalize the adoption. We are here to help you with this journey, ensuring the best possible outcome for your adoption case. 

Call us now at 713-804-6217 to schedule a consultation and start the process of bringing your child into the loving embrace of your legal family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for grandparent adoptions in Texas?

Grandparent adoptions in Texas are a legal means for grandparents to gain full parental rights over their grandchild. This process typically involves a series of legal steps such as the termination of the biological parents’ rights, which may be voluntary or court-ordered. Additionally, the prospective adoptive grandparents must complete a home study to assess their suitability, and if the child is 12 years of age or older, their explicit consent to the adoption must be obtained. Finally, a court hearing is held to finalize the adoption, where the judge will consider the best interests of the child before granting custody to the grandparents.

What is the process for stepparent adoption?

The process for stepparent adoptions in Texas is designed to legally establish the stepparent as one of the child’s parents. This process involves several steps, starting with the termination of the non-custodial biological parent’s rights, either by voluntary relinquishment or through a court order. The child, if they are 12 years or older, must consent to the adoption, and the court must be satisfied that the adoption is in the child’s best interests. After these requirements are met, a court hearing takes place where the judge will make a decision based on all presented evidence and testimonies to ensure the child’s welfare.

What is the role of the amicus attorney in the adoption process?

The amicus attorney serves as an independent legal representative for the child’s interests during the adoption process. Their role is to provide the court with an objective view by evaluating the findings of the social study, interviewing the child and the stepparent, and speaking with other significant individuals in the child’s life. The amicus attorney then compiles a report with their findings and a recommendation to the court, ensuring that the child’s best interests are at the forefront of the adoption proceedings.

Can a child’s biological parent regain custody after an adoption is finalized in Texas?

Once an adoption is finalized in Texas, the adopted child’s legal ties to their biological parent are permanently severed. The biological parent’s rights are irrevocably terminated, making it extremely rare for them to regain custody afterward. In exceptional cases where the adoption may be challenged, such as when there are claims of procedural violations or coercion, the courts may consider the evidence presented, but these instances are uncommon and subject to stringent legal scrutiny.

Can a family member or stepparent adopt a child without a home study in Texas?

In certain situations, Texas law allows for the possibility of a family member or stepparent adopting a child without the standard home study requirement. The court may waive this prerequisite if it deems that the home study is not in the best interest of the child, or if the child has been living with the relative or stepparent for a sufficient amount of time, thereby rendering the home study redundant. However, this waiver is not automatic and is granted at the discretion of the court, which will evaluate the unique circumstances of each case to ensure the child’s best interests are being served.

Is the Termination of Parental Rights Required to Adopt in Texas?

Most adoptions require the termination of the parental rights of a minor child before they can be finalized. Unless it is a second-parent adoption, then the parental rights are extended to another individual rather than terminated.

To process an adoption, adoption agencies must acquire either written consent from the biological parents or must prove in court that the parent’s rights should be terminated. In a private adoption, it is typical that the biological parents give voluntary termination of their parental rights.

What Is Considered the “Best Interests of the Child”?

The best interests of a child are the legal standards used by the court to decide any legal disputes regarding children, especially adoptions.

To gain a sense of what a child’s best interests are, a court might conduct interviews with both the child and adoptive parents, observe the child in different home settings, assess the relationship between the child and prospective adoptive parents, evaluate the home, run background checks, and review any relevant information towards the “suitability” of the adoptive parents.