How to Adopt My Niece or Nephew in Texas


a woman reading a book with their adopted nieceOften, if a parent is unable to care for their child, or is out of the picture, a relative steps in to raise the child or children. Perhaps your brother or sister and their spouse died, leaving your niece or nephew without parents. If you’re wondering how to adopt your niece or nephew in Texas, you’re not alone. You may take them into your home, giving them a stable, loving environment. In every practical way, you are the child’s parent, but many families raising a relative may wish to formalize a parent-child relationship with their relative.

Making the decision to adopt a young relative is an important step in completing your family, but it’s not without potential challenges. Texas laws for adoption do not preclude one relative from adopting another, but the process can be complex and overwhelming. If you are considering pursuing adoption of a young relative in your care, call an experienced family law attorney for help.

Relative Adoption in Texas: How To Adopt Your Niece or Nephew

Relative adoption is sometimes referred to as “kinship adoption” and can include an adult relative adopting their:

  • Grandchild
  • Niece or nephew
  • Cousin
  • Sibling
  • Other related minor

Doing so can strengthen family bonds and afford both you and the child additional legal protections to support your relationship. If a parent is incarcerated, deceased, absent, and unable to be found, or otherwise has been proven to be an unfit parent for the child, adoption by a close relative may be a viable option instead of the child living with strangers.

While you may have been granted managing conservatorship of a minor child, which gives you the legal authority to make many decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, and safety, adopting the child and becoming their legal parent affords even more benefits. The child can now inherit from you without a will and qualify for life insurance coverage they might not have previously received.

Adoption Requirements for Relatives in Texas

Texas Family Code Chapter 162 outlines Texas’s adoption requirements, highlighting how to adopt your niece or nephew in Texas. It outlines the conditions for a child’s adoption and the requirements that prospective adoptive parents must fulfill. The requirements for a relative adopting a child are the same as those for a non-relative. The prospective parent must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Provide records of any marriage or divorce
  • Provide references (an adoption lawyer can help you learn more about appropriate references)
  • Demonstrate they can provide a safe and stable home for the child
  • Complete a home study with a social worker
  • Undergo a criminal and child abuse background check
  • Show they are healthy enough to raise the child
  • Submit employment and income documentation

You must submit specific forms and documentation to a Texas family law court and meet certain deadlines. Any mistake can cause costly delays and jeopardize your petition to adopt your relative. An attorney can guide you so you do not miss details or critical deadlines.

Texas Adoption Laws for Aunts and Uncles

A non-parent relative cannot adopt a child until the biological parent’s rights have been terminated. If the parents have passed away, this step is not required. However, if they are alive, then either you may ask the parents to terminate their rights or petition the court to do so.

The next step is filing a Petition for Adoption in the family law court in the county where the child lives.

Then, you and your family must undergo a home study. It’s a required step even if the child has been living with you. The home study includes a home inspection and interviews to assist a judge in determining the child’s best interests for adoption.

The social worker interviews each family member separately, including the child, and gauges your readiness to adopt. You will also have to demonstrate that your home has appropriate safety measures, like a smoke detector, outlet covers, or firearms locked away.

If the child is 12 years old or older, then they must also consent to the adoption, either in writing or in a hearing before a Texas family law judge. At the conclusion of the home study, interviews, and background checks, there is a hearing to finalize your relative adoption.

Pros and Cons of Relative Adoption in Texas

person researching how to adopt their niece or nephew in texas and writing down the pros and consEach family dynamic is different, but for many people seeking a relative adoption, the goal is to keep the child surrounded by loving, stable family members and provide legal protections for the practical parent-child relationship. Formal adoption can simplify even basic tasks for caring for your young relative, like enrolling them in school or chaperoning school trips, taking them to the doctor, or providing the child with health insurance.

Relative adoption offers several benefits, including:

  • Legal legitimacy. Adopting the child means that you are his or her legal parent, with the authority to make all healthcare, educational, and financial decisions on their behalf. You can also enroll the child in school or move and change schools without extra documentation steps or court oversight.
  • Financial benefits. An adopted child is eligible to inherit in situations where a ward or more distant relative would not. Adopted children are also eligible to file certain legal actions, such as a wrongful death suit on the death of their parent, whereas a ward may not be able to file one on the death of their guardian.
  • Emotional stability. Legalizing what is, for all intents and purposes, a parent-child relationship can provide a sense of belonging for the child, especially if they are in your home because their biological parents proved unsuitable.

Kinship adoption offers many benefits, but it permanently alters your family dynamic. Are you ready to be the legal parent of a child? If you have other children or are married, does the rest of your family agree with the decision to adopt? Finally, are you financially able to provide for your relative?

This guide on how to adopt your niece or nephew in Texas provides a roadmap, but every situation is unique. It’s essential to carefully consider the decision’s impact on all involved.

How an Austin Family Law Firm Can Help with Texas Relative Adoption

Are you considering adopting a niece, nephew, or grandchild? Do you need more information about the process for adopting a minor child relative? Contact Smith Family Law today at 512-675-2048 for a consultation with an experienced Texas family law and adoption attorney.

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Written by: Smith Family Law

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