Many times a child has little to no relationship with a biological parent but has a wonderful relationship with a step-parent. In those situations, many families consider having the step-parent adopt the child.  In order to complete a step-parent adoption, the rights of the biological parent must first be terminated.  (This can be done in the same proceeding as the adoption.)

If the bio parent is agreeable to the termination, this is a very easy and quick process. The relinquishing bio parent must simply sign an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights, to be filed with the petition for termination and step-parent adoption.  When there is a step-parent ready to step in to adopt the child, the court will almost universally approve the termination.  With most adoptions, a social study and a guardian ad litem or amicus attorney (an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the child) are required.  However, with a step-parent adoption, you may ask the court to waive one or both of these requirements.  The step-parent must still complete a background check.  Once all paperwork has been completed, the non-terminating bio parent, the step-parent and the child will appear in court to finalize the adoption with a short prove-up hearing.

After the terminating bio parent signs an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights, that parent is generally no longer entitled to notice of anything that goes on in the proceeding.  That parent will not receive any order of termination or adoption or ever even get confirmation that it happened.

If the bio parent is not willing to voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights, the process can be much more difficult.  The parent who is attempting to terminate the other parent’s rights could have a long, uphill battle trying to prove that the bio parent’s rights should be terminated.  The step-parent cannot adopt unless the court first finds that sufficient grounds exist to terminate the bio parent’s rights.

Paternity

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I love adoptions!  They are one of my absolute favorite things in the world, and I am always so excited when I get to play some small role in adoptions.  Many people choose to adopt from foreign countries.  When that happens, the actual adoption takes place in the foreign country.  Sometimes that adoption involves a name change and sometimes it does not.

After a foreign adoption is finalized and a child moves with his or her new parents to the United States, it is common practice to register the foreign order of adoption here.  In Texas, the process is quite simple.  You file a Petition for Registration of Foreign Order of Adoption.  Attached to the petition are affidavits from both parents and copies of the birth certificate, foreign order of adoption, and proof of immigration status.  If the child’s name was not changed in the foreign adoption, the petition can include a request for a name change.  Then we submit an Order Recognizing Foreign Order of Adoption (and Name Change, if applicable).  Many courts will sign off on the Order without a hearing, so the process can often be completed without ever setting foot in a courtroom.

Once the Order is signed, the parents can send a certified copy to the Bureau of Vital Statistics to obtain a new birth certificate.  The parents should get several certified copies that can be used for obtaining a new passport, social security card, etc.

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