I want to adopt my stepchild what steps do I take
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Texas
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First of all, what state is this in? Is there a biological father and mother still in the picture?
All I see is "1." Did you answer my follow up questions?
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sorry about that i tried using my cell to do this
texas yes and yes
i need to know the procedures and paperwork to go to court for my case. i have an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights but can the biological father sign it in front of a notary of public.
are you able to answer my questions today?
Apologies for the delay. I was out of the office when you responded last night, and I am currently trying to get all the documents and procedure together. Please give me about 10 minutes or so...
The first thing that you're going to want to do is to download the documents: http://www.filefactory.com/file/4ubityp9e4yt/n/texas_adoption_package.zip. Scroll down to the "slow download" (the red one, which will be free), you'll have to click that, enter a "captcha" (to show that you're a real person), and then on the next screen you'll have to scroll and wait about 30 seconds for the download link (the "click here to download now", again a red button).
Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights (VRPR Affidavit) : This is the first form you want to work on. It costs money to file your petitions so before you file you want to make sure the parent is actually going to sign and return this form to you. ou need to fill in the correct information and send it through certified mail or deliver yourself if you feel comfortable. You will also need to include a copy for the parent's information of the original petition that you will turn into the court.Please go line by line of each document.The parent giving up rights needs to initial the bottom of each page you can create a line as a "footer" in your document for this, they also must sign it with 2 witnesses they know in front of a notary. The case number XX the top of the form can be filled in later by you once you file.
Original Petition for Termination / Adoption / Name Change:
The parent giving up rights does not need to be notified by the court because within the Voluntary Relinquishment document the parent will waive their right for further notification.Since this petition is for an uncontested adoption/termination you do not need to request an ad litem (with any case if a judge feels your child needs one, they will order it). If you do not want to change the child's last name, state that you wish to keep the childs name List the case # XXX family court if you have any previous orders for divorce & custody, visitation, wage withholding, etc.REMEMBER: You should give a copy of the original petition to the parent giving up rights along with their voluntary relinquishment papers.When you take all of your papers to the court house they will assign you a case number, you can hand write the number in the NO.________ given on your documents or the clerk can stamp each document with the same case #.Make copies or pay for certified copies when you file.
Family Code Section 152.209 Affidavit: As stated in the Family Code you are required to supply the court with a Section 152.209 Information document. It is also stated in the Original Adoption/Termination petition that it is included so it must be filed along with petition.After reading this form you will learn it's pretty straight forward, it's basically a record for the court of who you are, where and who your child has lived with the last 5 years and what previous court cases you have had with this child.If you have a previous custody, support etc. list the court case # XXX the court you were assigned to for the court's reference.This is just one of those forms you have to fill out to comply with the family code.Once again, fill in the NO.____ when you file.
Interstate Compact Affidavit: This is another general document that is stated as necessary in the Texas Family Code and is mentioned as included in your Original Adoption/Termination, so make sure it is included when you file your paperwork.Interstate Compact is usually for other types of adoptions where the child is placed by an agency or where the case or child is crossing state lines. Nonetheless it must be included.If you have custody of the child and the child is in your home because of a custody agreement then you will keep what is stated in the form,"There has not been compliance with subchapter B of chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code, which deals with the interstate placement of children, because the child who is the subject of this suit was not placed in this home by another state or by an out-of-state person, agency, or entity.“Additionally, there has not been compliance with subchapter B of chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code, which deals with the interstate placement of children, because the child the subject of this suit was placed by a parent and was placed with a parent and step-parent.This just means the child lives with the parent and step(adoptive) parent, so you are addressing the form but basically saying it does not apply to your circumstances.
So you have your check list of paperwork:1)notarized Original Petition for adoption2)notarized Section 152.209 affidavit3)notarized Interstate Compact affidavit4)notarized Voluntary RelinquishmentIn your county take all of these documents to the District Family Court Office where you file new family causes/cases. Tell the clerk straight forward you are there to file an uncontested stepparent adoption “PRO SE“ (by yourself-without a lawyer)-maybe they will help you a little more then.Give them everything you have and pay all of the filing fees. (about $250). You can bring cash or pay with a credit card.They will assign you a Case Number- this is when you can hand write this in the NO._____ area at the top of each of your forms, (or sometimes they will stamp it for you.) The original case # XXXX assign to you will be used for all further documents pertaining to this case.They should also assign you a hearing date that should allow you time to complete a background check and social study. If not, request a hearing date or ask the clerk about seeing the judge for a final hearing. (there are different rules depending on where you live)Now you are done with the bulk of the adoption process........In Texas they now automatically order a "uncontested social study" or home study, even for a stepparent adoption where the child has lived with the stepparent for a long time (this is why your Section 152.209 is important, it lists the time at residence). In many counties the Domestic Relations Office receives the order that the court has the judge sign and they will contact you with the information you have provided. (I included the form, but you do not have to turn it in with your paperwork, unless you want to.) (A Judge can still waive the study but most of the time it goes through this process).
Once you file your paperwork they will automatically order an Adoption Social Study. (yes, the new law in Texas is that with ANY adoption case a home study will be ordered).This is done through the Domestic Relations Office (in most larger counties) You don’t have to do anything, they will contact you when the order is processed. They will want payment, (as of Feb. 2010) it is $250 for a uncontested social study. (its more for a contested)Once you make payment they will set up a date for a social worker to come to your house, inspect and ask the custodial parent and the adoptive parent a bunch of questions. When they contact you they will instruct you further about any documents (birth certificate, child’s shot records, DL etc.) you may need to present or any other requirements. After the study is complete they will file their report with the court and it will be added to all of your other documents.
Immediately after filing your documents with the court keep a record of your Case # XXXXXXXX to you.Then get the adoptive parent to get fingerprinted and send off to the DPS for a criminal background check. You can get finger printed on an OFFICIAL card (fill in info. On the card) at your local police/constable/sherriff office/station (call to make sure they do fingerprinting, some do not) sometimes they do it for free, sometimes they charge you $10.OR the DPS has a service they work with for electronic fingerprinting for ($9.95).(www.L1enroll.com)Either way get fingerprinted and type up a request for “Criminal History Record For Persons Seeking to Adopt a Child“. (List that as the title) then include all information About adoptive parent only!You can type this up and have it ready before you go to court, just remember to later include your Case # XXX court’s mailing address. Don’t put it off.1. Last name, first name, middle name, any alias names2. Sex, race, date of birth3. Social security number and Texas driver license number or ID card number4. Address for results to be mailed to (this is your courts address) request specifically for the results to be mailed to the court and NOT to your home address.5. Mailing address and phone number of adoptive parent6. Cause number for adoption. (given to you when you file)7. Adoptive parent needs to sign typed request AND their fingerprint card8. Enclose a $15.00 check or money order made out to Texas Dept. of Public Safety9. Mail everything together to:Texas Department of Public SafetyCrime Records ServiceP. O. Box 15999Austin, TX XXXXX-XXXX-The same detailed instructions are on Procedure to Access Criminal History Record Information for Person(s) Seeking to Adopt a Child or I have included the instructions page (in text format)Soon the DPS will send the background check to the Court’s mailing address you provided and if you put the Case # XX will be added to your case file, you don’t have to do anything except maybe call to check on your case and see if it was added, (usually takes 2 weeks or less.)
The court will require a written consent from an older child being adopted. This is a simple formality document that they just want filed with the case. It is short and sweet with a general statement that the minor child agrees with the adoption. The child must sign the document. However, the child will also be asked by the social worker that comes to your home how he/she feels about the adoption and her answer will be included in the social worker's report to the court. If you are assigned an ad litem attorney they will ask the same questions. One more time the judge may ask the child when you go to court to have everything finalized.
Order Granted DocumentWhen you have submitted all of your forms, you have completed your social study (required by law), you have completed your background check (required by law) and you have met with the child's amicus attorney (required in most counties)and etc. then on your final day to go to court you will need an "order" for the judge to sign. This document includes everything. It tells that all forms have been submitted like the interstate compact, the relinquishment document, the background check, the social study report etc.It basically is a summary of everything that has been filed and done for the case. Judges just like something to sign off on.Make several copies of this document. On the day you go to court file one copy with the court clerk (in the courtroom). Bring a copy for yourself and for your amicus attorney (if they will be with you in court). When you are called the Judge will review everything in the document ask you and the adoptive parent if everything is right and true, ask you a few fact questions- like when were you married, how long have you been with the child etc. Then the judge will say okay and sign your document granting the adoption which you can get a certified copy of in a few weeks from the courthouse.(Since it is an adoption of a minor some courthouses (like harris county) make you fill out a special form for a certified copy of a sealed document, ask only for a copy of the "granted order", then you have to get an associate judge or the judge in your case to sign permission for the copy and then you may receive your copy $1per page) On your reason for requesting certified copies put to change child's name at school, doctor, insurance etc.
You will be getting a social study document (like the one I posted) in the mail from the court. On it will have a court date. This is not the day you have to go to court-it is the very last day you can go to court, meaning you can go to court in your county any uncontested docket day-call your court's clerk and ask which days they do uncontested cases. If you have turned in all your paperwork you will still need to complete the home study and the background check. The background check can take some time so do it a.s.a.p. Once your background check and the home study report is filed you can go to court and finalize your case, make sure your print out the new Granted Order document in the packet.
Hope that clears things up a bit. I know it's a lot of information, but you can print it out after you click "accept". If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please select the "accept" button. If you have already clicked "accept", or if you will in the future, please let me know so I can track these for my own reports and customer satisfaction stats. Bonuses, while not required, are greatly appreciated. Thank you, and again, good luck to you!
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Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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