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It sometimes takes a while for couples to realize one spouse might adopt the other’s children, becoming a stepparent as well as a parent in the eyes of the State of Texas. Occasionally, a blended family with two sets of kids might all become legal parents and children together. Once you see the potential emotional, financial and legal benefits, they can be hard to forget.

But every state presents its own obstacles, requirements and process. Texas does stepparent adoption its own way and, like other states, its rules may or may not turn out to be hurdles that can be cleared in your situation.

Who do you have to be?

In most cases, the main answer is simple. If you’re the stepparent, you must be married to a biological parent of the child. (The U.S. Supreme Court says same-sex couples can be married and must enjoy the rights of other married couples, including adoption.)

“The Ex”: What about the children’s other biological parent?

Biological parenting takes two. When it comes to that other parent who isn’t your spouse, only one of the following must be true, at least to the satisfaction of the court.

  • Your spouse is the only biological parent the children have (the other parent is diseased.)
  • The children’s other biological parent is unknown, chooses to be absent or can’t be located.
  • The children’s other biological parent agrees to the adoption, understands their parental rights will be terminated and is willing to sign documents saying so.
  • The “child” is an adult. People adopt adults for many reasons, often including its advantages for estate planning.

Doesn’t Texas have to know that I’d be a “fit” parent?

Yes, Texas does make that determination, at least to its own satisfaction.

A “social study” will examine your criminal history and consider the overall household situation. The evaluator is likely to visit the family home and try to understand the financial circumstances of the family and get a sense of how you and the children get along.

An attorney appointed by the court will also evaluate the relationships in the family.

All this will cost money. It might also prevent or delay the adoption, although that is not the typical outcome.