You married your wife who had a young son from a previous relationship. The three of you made a family. You helped raise the boy and participated in family outings at campgrounds, amusement parks and other fun and enlightening activities.
He is your son, and you treat him that way. But after several months of pondering, you want to make it official by adopting him. Understand that not only will the family dynamic change a bit, but so will your responsibilities.
Understand your legal responsibilities
Here are some guidelines to remember when considering a stepparent adoption:
- Prepare for a significant change: This affects you, the family and, especially, the child who now has a new identity and name to go with it. Take things slowly and consider seeking family counseling to get accustomed to the adjustments.
- Embrace and understand the legal responsibilities: As the legal parent, you remain financially responsible for your child. Other areas of responsibility include housing, education, medical care and emotional needs. Remember, if you and your spouse divorce, you must pay child support.
- Assemble the necessary documents: This would include the child’s birth certificate as well as your marriage license. Related to the biological parent, get the divorce documents from the previous marriage. Also, if the other parent died, secure the death certificate.
- If possible, locate the child’s absent parent: This may be difficult. If you are unsuccessful, you may seek the advice of a knowledgeable family law attorney who works with adoptions.
- Attain termination of parental rights from the other biological parent: This person may voluntarily agree to terminate parental rights and sign the necessary legal documents. But involuntary termination also is an option. A parent may involuntarily surrender parental rights based on neglect, abuse, substance abuse and certain felony convictions.
- Gain consent: You must get consent to adopt from the other birth parent. In addition, in Texas, you also must receive consent from a child who is 12 or older.
Follow these steps, and you are on your way to becoming the child’s legal parent.
The strong bond continues
Nothing will change the bond you already established with your stepchild. But what will change is your parental status. Embrace it and lovingly embrace your child, too.