According to Nolo, a website offering free legal information, stepparent adoptions are far less complicated than standard adoptions because the relationship between the stepchild and the stepparent eliminates the need for some parts of the procedure. This holds true in Texas, but certain requirements must still be met.
Notify the biological parent that your spouse wants to adopt your child. If the parent is no longer a part of your child’s life and you don’t know where he is currently living, then Texas allows for notification by newspaper.
Terminate the parental rights of your child’s other biological parent. In some cases, the parent has no objection to the adoption and will voluntarily sign an affidavit relinquishing his rights. If the parent does object, then it will be necessary to prove to the court that terminating hisrights is in the best interests of your child. This is often the most difficult part of the process because the termination is considered permanent and cannot be undone. A judge would need substantial cause to terminate the rights of an objecting parent, such as the fact that he has never supported your child financially or has been absent from his life for a considerable period of time.
Consult your child if she is over 12 years of age. The adoption of older children requires their consent in Texas. Some judges will also ask that your child undergo a period of counseling to make sure that she understands all the implications of what she is agreeing to.
File a petition for adoption with the court. If the other biological parent has agreed to terminate his parental rights, then you would simultaneously file his affidavit of consent with the petition for adoption. Otherwise, you would need to file two petitions: one to terminate his rights and another to allow your spouse to adopt the child.
Attend the initial hearing. The judge will review your petition and decide whether your child should attend counseling, then he will set a date for a final hearing after a reasonable amount of time for counseling to be completed. If the adoption is contested, the court might also require that your child have his own lawyer, called an attorney ad litem, to represent his interests. A judge will appoint an attorney to act in this capacity, and you will have to pay his fees.
Appear in court for the final hearing. The judge will have to make two findings for the adoption to be successful. He will have to terminate the other biological parent’s rights either by consent or because he has decided that it’s in the child’s best interests. He will also then rule on and approve the adoption. Both of these issues are generally addressed in one hearing.