Adopting your spouse’s child is a big decision and often an exciting one too. The process of becoming a legal co-parent is called second parent adoption.
What is second parent adoption?
Second Parent Adoption is the process by which a married partner can legally adopt their spouse’s biological or adoptive child. While this term is often used interchangeably with same-sex adoption or LGBT adoption, the legal process for a step-parent is the same.
It is important to protect the parental rights of the non-biological parent who seeks to become a second parent. A second parent adoption allows for the spouse of the child’s adoptive or biological parent to also have child custody.
Why is a legal adoption important?
Legal adoption enables the adopting parent to have the same rights and responsibilities with respect to a child as a biological parent. If you are married and one of you is not the biological parent, then it is very important for the non-biological parent to go through the legal adoption process. This protects your parental rights should divorce occur.
Is same-sex or LGBT adoption legal in Texas?
Yes, same-sex couples can have a Texas adoption. While Texas law does not explicitly authorize second parent adoption, many judges will allow it but it is not a sure thing. If you are considering adoption in Texas, it’s important for you to consult with a family law attorney experienced with second parent adoption. The Texas Family Code reads that an adoption is allowable only if it is with the “best interests” of the child in mind. In addition, the code reads: “A child 12 years of age or older must consent to the adoption in writing or in court. The court may waive this requirement if it would serve the child’s best interest.”
What is the second parent adoption process like?
Several steps are involved in the process of a Texas adoption. This includes an investigation into the fitness of the person petitioning for adoption to become the second parent and a pre-adoptive home screening called an in-home study. The home study is intended to evaluate both parents’ family history, their health, their financial situation, and the home environment. In Austin, Texas – more specifically Travis County – the home study evaluator is selected from the court’s list of qualified practitioners.
Statistics about LGBT Adoption and Second Parent Adoption
“Same-sex parents in the United States are four times more likely than different-sex parents to be raising an adopted child.”
“One out of every 25 U.S. families with children have an adopted child. According to the U.S. Census, about half of these have both biological and adopted children.” Source: https://adoptionnetwork.com/adoption-statistics)
“An estimated 65k adopted children are living with same-sex / gay parents.”
Kelly J. Capps is a family law attorney practicing in Texas. She serves couples and families in Austin, Round Rock, Westlake, Georgetown, Cedar Park, and other parts of Texas. Kelly is a member of the Family Law Section of the Texas State Bar, the Austin Bar Association, the Travis County Women Lawyer’s Association, the Williamson County Bar Association, the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, and the Texas Family Law Foundation.
If you would like to contact Kelly J. Capps to discuss your current situation, please fill out our Contact Form or call (512) 338-9800.