Attached is a step-by-step guide to filing an uncontested termination & step-parent adoption in Bexar County. We followed the steps outlined below and my husbands adoption of my son was GRANTED on April 16, 2015!! IҒm not sure how this differs from other counties in Texas, but this is definitely a starting point for anyone trying to do this without a lawyer. My family is proof that you CAN successfully file for adoption Pro Se. :wings:
I will attempt to upload the forms as well; however, if they don't come out correctly, just let me know and I'll email them.
STEP 1 Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights
This is the first form you want to work on.
It costs money to file your petition so, before you file, you want to make sure the other parent is actually going to sign and return this form to you.
You 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 of the original petition that you will file with the court for the other parent's information. I suggest talking to the parent first and giving them time to think about it. It is a serious decision and the paperwork can be intimidating and can be turned down easily if you have not discussed this situation prior.
Please go line by line of each document to ensure accuracy.
The parent giving up rights needs to initial the bottom of each page and they also must sign it with 2 witnesses they know in front of a notary. The case number at the top of the form can be filled in later you once you file.
STEP 2 ֖ Original Petition for Termination/Adoption/Name Change
If the custodial parent is a co-petitioner in the original adoption/termination petition then the biological consent is given within the petition and you do not need an additional biological consent form.
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 the child's name to remain.
List the case # and 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.
STEP 3 Section 152.209 Family Code Document
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 # and 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 case NO.____ when you file.
STEP 4 ֖ 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 my 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.
STEP 5 Ԗ Motion for Preparation of Reports
This document is the motion for the judge to order an evaluator to conduct the required home study, so make sure you include this in the paperwork you file.
STEP 6 Filing Your Paperwork
So you have your check list of paperwork:
1) notarized Original Petition for adoption
2) notarized Section 152.209 affidavit
3) notarized Interstate Compact affidavit
4) notarized Voluntary Relinquishment
5) Motion for Preparation of Reports
In Bexar County take all of these documents to the Bexar County Courthouse, 100 Dolorosa, San Antonio, TX 78205. The adoption department is on the 2nd floor. This is 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 ($313 for termination/adoption as of April 2015 in Bexar County). You can bring cash or pay with a credit card. They will assign you a Case Number, and 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 # they assign to you will be used for all further documents pertaining to this case.
You will need to fill out a Pro Se acknowledgment form while there and a case information sheet. They should these forms available for you. Because you do not have a lawyer, you will not have a set hearing date.
Make copies or pay for certified copies of all documents you file (Certified copies in Bexar county cost $1/page).
Now you are done with the bulk of the adoption process.
STEP 7 Ӗ Home Study/Social Study
In Texas they now automatically order an "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).
Once you file your paperwork, you will need to visit the Domestic Relations Office to get a list of current evaluators. (I have included a list current as of April 2015.) You can contact the evaluator(s) beforehand to find out if they are available to complete the study if you like.
Fill out the ORDER APPOINTING EVALUATOR TO MAKE REQUIRED SOCIAL STUDY and then go to the Staff Attorneys office (1st floor of the Bexar County Courthouse) to have them review this and all other forms you have filed thus far. Once they have determined all the necessary paperwork is there, they will take you in to see the judge and have this order signed and then up to the adoption department again to file this document with your case.
Once this is complete, you may contact the evaluator the schedule the home study. They will want payment, approximately $350 for an uncontested social study (more if contested). The evaluator will likely require you to get a background check done on both the Biological and adoptive parents as well as fill out some additional paperwork.
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, childҒs 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. They will furnish you a copy of the report as well. Make sure to ask them for a certified copy of the report.
IMPORTANT: IMMEDIATELY AFTER FILING YOUR PAPERWORK AND WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR HOME STUDY, BEGIN THE BACKGROUND CHECK PROCESS.
STEP 8 Adoptive Parent's Criminal Background Check
Immediately after filing your documents with the court keep a record of your Case # assigned to you, and then get the adoptive parent to get fingerprinted and send off to the DPS for a criminal background check. I suggest you go ahead and do this for both the adoptive and Biological parents as you will likely need it for the home study evaluator as well.
You can get finger printed on an OFFICIAL card (fill in info. on the card) at your local police/constable/sheriff office/station (call to make sure they do fingerprinting, some do not) OR the DPS has a service they work with for electronic fingerprinting. ([url]www.identogo.com)[/url]. Either way, get fingerprinted and background checks ordered. The detailed instructions for the DPS online service are on [URL="http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/Forms/CR-62.pdf"]Procedure to Access Criminal History Record Information for Person(s) Seeking to Adopt a Child.[/URL]
Soon the DPS will send the background check to the Court֒s mailing address you provided and if you put the Case # it will be added to your case file or you can have it sent directly to your home address and go to the courthouse yourself to file it into your case. You dont have to do anything except maybe call to check on your case and see if it was added (usually takes 2 weeks or less) if you had it sent directly to the courthouse.
STEP 9 Җ Final Order Granting Adoption
When 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 (if determined by the judge that one is needed), 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 need something to sign off on.
On the day you go to court, you will need to stop by the Staff Attorneys office as before so they can review all your paperwork again before you see the judge to ensure all documents are there. Make sure you have copies of all filed documents with you as well as a certified copy of the home study report and even your childҒs birth certificate just in case. When they determine you have everything, they will call you in to see the Judge.
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. The judge will likely ask your child a few questions as well. Then the judge will grant the adoption and sign your document and you will be taken up to the adoption department again to file your final order.
Immediately after you get your paperwork filed and get your certified copies your adoption records will be sealed. Make sure you get as many certified copies of the final order as you may need (for school, insurance, doctor, etc.), especially if you are changing your childs name, as it will be very difficult (and costly) to have your case unsealed in order to get copies. Certified copies cost $1/page in Bexar County.
There is a form you can fill out for a commemorative certificate of adoption that Bexar County will send to you free of charge if you like. This is located in the adoption department and you can fill this out when you file your final order.
They will file the certificate of adoption with the Office of Vital Statistics in Austin, TX for you if you are changing the childҒs birth certificate or you can send this form in yourself. The form and instructions for completing are attached as well.
This is your last document, good luck!
If you either ' Google ' Step Parent Adoptions for your County , or look at your County's Courthouse's Website.
The forms and the paperwork in the Bests Interests and Advocacy of your ' Home County ' should be there as well also??
Hi I'm not able to open the links. Can you please email them to me at antayiasimone@gmail.com?? This information has been EXTREMELY helpful as my husband and I had no idea where to begin.
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can you please send me a template example of the motion for preparation of reports you filed? i have been following your step by step instructions... i appeared in court today and Judge requested i request for a ad litem to be appointed in my cause. after this, I should be good. your information has been very helpful and i appreciate the article. if you can please send the motion of preparation of report to my email - ericapatel86@gmail.com
thank you!
Hello, I see that this post is a little dated. Im hoping that I can still get a copy of the forms emailed to me at btatum2@gmail.com
This is just what I needed, I felt so lost! Could I also get these forms sent to me? tbrivera23@gmail.com
Thank you so much!
Could anyone please email me all the docs needed to file petition for step parent adoption? I cannot find them anywhere. Are they specific by state? jayzzie6113@gmail.com