Stepparents in Texas must formally adopt their new spouse's children if they want the right to make decisions for and custody over the children. Stepparents, both the child's birth parents and in some cases the child himself are all involved in the adoption process.
Termination of Other Birth Parent's Rights
If both of a child's birth parents are alive, the other birth parent must agree to terminate her rights before the Texas courts will allow you to adopt your step-child. If the non-custodial parent is not involved with his child's life, he may be willing to sign a statement agreeing to terminate his rights so that you can adopt the child. However, the biological parent has the right to refuse your request. If this happens, you and your spouse must take the other biological parent to court and petition it to strip her of her rights. Texas courts can only grant your petition if you can prove that the non-custodial parent does not have an ongoing relationship with the child or a plan to establish one.
Consent from Your Step-Child
If your spouse's child is older than 12, he must consent to the adoption before you can move forward with your petition. Usually he does this by providing a written, signed statement agreeing to the adoption. If the child refuses to consent to the adoption, you can go to court to try to compel him to consent. As with birth parents, most Texas courts are reluctant to supersede a teenager's refusal to consent. You would have to prove it is in the child's best interest for the adoption to proceed anyway.
Texas law requires that you and your spouse file a joint petition for adoption. You cannot adopt your step-child without the consent and participation of your spouse.
You and your spouse must file the petition and supporting paperwork with the clerk of the juvenile court in the county where you live. If the child currently lives in a different county, you must file your petition for adoption in that county. The court will finalize the adoption and issue a decree stating that you have rights of custody and the right to make medical and educational decisions for the child.