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Instructions & Forms for an Adult Adoption in Texas with a Name Change (Set B)

These instructions explain the steps to adopt an adult in Texas.  Each step includes a link to the form or forms needed for that step.

Have you read the Frequently Asked Questions? These instructions are part of this TexasLawHelp.org toolkit: I want to adopt an adult in Texas. It’s important to read the Frequently Asked Questions included with the toolkit before getting started.

WARNING! These instructions provide general information, not legal advice. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.

You can print these instructions to use as a checklist. 

 

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Step 1 Fill out your court forms

If you are asking the court for an adoption of an adult and the adult being adopted (the “adult adoptee”) wants a name change, fill out the starting forms.

Original Petition for Adoption of an Adult (Set B)This form (called the Petition) asks the judge to order the adoption. 

Print your answers using blue or black ink. Do not leave blanks. 

Who are the petitioners? Here, the petitioners are the people asking the court to sign the decree of adoption. Because the adult adoptee is asking for a name change, they are a petitioner, too.

If the person who wants to adopt someone is married, their spouse must also sign the Petition. See Texas Family Code 162.503(b). Even though the spouse of a petitioner in an adoption case must also join in the adoption case as a petitioner, the spouse may ask the court not to grant the adoption to both spouses, and only to one. Talk with a lawyer if this is an issue in your case.

Who is the adult adoptee? The adult being adopted adopt is the adult adoptee. (If the adult adoptee is asking for a name change you and the adult adoptee must fill out the Petition together because the Petition asks for personal information specific to the adult adoptee.). The adult adoptee must sign it in front of a notary public. 

Important: If the adult adoptee’s current legal name (before the adoption) is different from the name that appears on the adult’s adoptee’s birth certificate, the Petition and Decree of Adoption need to include both the adult adoptee’s current legal name and the name that appears on the adult adoptee’s birth certificate. 

When you fill out the adult adoptee’s name in the Petition and Decree, write the adult adoptee’s current legal name first, then write “a.k.a.” followed by the name that appears on the adult adoptee’s birth certificate.

For example, if the adult adoptee’s current legal name is Jane Doe, and the adult adoptee’s name that appears on her birth certificate is Jane Roe, fill in the adult adoptee’s name as follows: Jane Doe a.k.a. Jane Roe.

Fill out this starting form completely in blue or black ink.

If you are asking the Court for a name change of the adult adoptee, you MUST attach the following documents to your Petition: 

  • A legible and complete set of the adult adoptee’s fingerprints on a fingerprint card in a form acceptable to the Texas Department of Public Safety and Federal Bureau of Investigations. Write “Exhibit A” at the top. 
  • If the adult adoptee was convicted of a felony and it has been at least 2 years since the adult adoptee was discharged or completed probation or parole, attach proof from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for each conviction. Write “Exhibit B” at the top.  
  • If the adult adoptee is required to register as a sex offender, attach a copy of the Sex Offender Update form the adult adoptee submitted to local law enforcement notifying them you are asking the Court to change the adult adoptee’s name. Write “Exhibit C” at the top. 

Fill out this additional starting form if you cannot afford to pay the filing fee for your case. Call the district clerk’s office in the county where you live to learn the filing fee for your adoption case.

●    Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs

If you are filing a document in person, here is one more starting form to complete:

Fill out the following ending forms:

 

 

Step 2 Have your forms reviewed (if possible)

Although not required, it’s a good idea to have a family law lawyer review your completed forms. Family law lawyers specialize in cases involving families, such as adoptions.

You can hire a lawyer just to review your forms. Hiring a lawyer for a limited purpose is called limited scope representation.  You can then finish your case yourself.

Use our Legal Help Finder to search for a lawyer referral organization in your county.

If you have a low income, you may be able to have your forms reviewed for free at a legal clinic. Use our Legal Clinic Calendar to search for free legal clinics in your area. 

 

Step 3 Make copies of your starting forms

Make two copies of your completed Original Petition for Adoption.

Make two copies of your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Courts only if you are asking the court to waive court costs.

You do not need copies of the Civil Case Information Sheet

 

Step 4 File your Petition and other starting forms with the clerk

File (turn in) your completed petition and other starting forms with the district court clerk in the county where you live.

●    To file your forms online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.

●    To file your forms in person, take your Petition and additional starting forms (and copies) to the district clerk’s office in the county where you live.

At the clerk’s office:

○    Turn in your Petition and other starting forms (and copies).

○    Pay the filing fee (or file your completed Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs if you cannot afford the fee).

○    Ask the clerk if there is a local standing order that you need to follow or attach to your Petition.

○    Ask the clerk if there are local rules or procedures you need to know about for your case.

○    The clerk will write your cause number and court number at the top of the first page of your Petition.  (Write these numbers at the top of any document you file in your case.)

○    The clerk will file stamp your copies with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and return your copies. 

 

Step 5 Give the adult adoptee a file-stamped copy of your petition and ask the adult adoptee to sign court forms

Give the adult adoptee:

Ask the adult adoptee to complete these 2 steps:

(1) FILL OUT and SIGN the Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form. Tell the adult adoptee to sign the consent at least one day after you filed the Petition. Otherwise, the adult adoptee will have to redo it.

(2)  SIGN the completed Decree of Adoption of an Adult form.

The Decree of Adoption of an Adult form must be completely filled out when the adult adoptee signs it. You CANNOT make changes to the decree form after it has been signed by the adult adoptee, unless the adult adoptee initials each change.

 (3) RETURN the signed forms to you.

You (and your spouse, if applicable) should also:

 

Step 6 File the Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form with the clerk

File (turn in) the completed and signed Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form into your open case number with the district court clerk in the county where you live.

●    To file the form online, go to E-File Texas and follow the instructions.

●    To file the form in person, take the completed and signed Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form (and copy) to the district clerk’s office in the county where you live.

At the clerk’s office:

○    Turn in the Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form (and copy).

○    The clerk will file-stamp your copy with the date and time. The clerk will keep the original and return your copy to you. 

 

 

 

Step 7 Go to court with your spouse (if applicable) and the adult adoptee to finish your case.

If you have turned in the signed Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form and all petitioners (including spouse, if applicable, and the adult adoptee) have signed the completed Decree of Adoption of an Adult form, you can all go to court to finish your adoption.

●    Call the clerk’s office to learn when and where the court hears uncontested adoption cases.

  • Some courts will schedule your adoption hearing for a specific date and time. Other courts do not require scheduled hearings, and instead allow you to come to court at a time that the judge hears cases on a first-come first-served basis on the “uncontested docket.” 

●    Read the article Tips for the Courtroom for more information about going to court.

●    Bring these papers with you to the courthouse on the day you plan to finish your adoption.

  • A file-stamped copy of your Original Petition for Adoption of an Adult;
  • A file-stamped copy of the Consent of Adult Subject to Adoption form signed by the adult adoptee;
  • A completed Decree of Adoption of an Adult signed by you (your spouse, if applicable) and the adult adoptee;
  • A completed Certificate of Adoption.

●    When you get to the courthouse, go to the clerk’s office.

      ○    Ask the clerk if you need the court file or docket sheet (list of what has been filed in your case).

●    When you get to the courtroom, tell the clerk you are there. Sit down until the judge calls your case.

●    When the judge calls your case, you, (your spouse, if applicable) and the adult adoptee should walk to the front of the courtroom and stand in front of the judge’s bench. The judge will have each of you raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth. Be prepared to quickly tell the judge: who you are, how you are related to the adult adoptee, that you are asking the judge for an adoption of the adult, a name change for the adult, and why the name change is in the adult’s best interest or in the interest of the public. It’s a good idea to write down everything you want to say so you can read it to the judge if you get nervous.

●    The judge will listen to what you say and review your papers. If everything is in order the judge will sign your Decree of Adoption of an Adult.

Step 8 File the signed order with the clerk

After the judge signs the Decree of Adoption of an Adult, go back to the clerk’s office.

File (turn in) the signed Decree of Adoption of an Adult signed by the judge. The case is NOT final until you do so.

Give the court clerk the Certificate of Adoption and ask the court clerk to fill out, sign and seal section 4.

Make sure the clerk fills out section 4 completely and stamps it with the clerk’s official seal. Box 46 should be filled in with the adult adoptee’s NEW NAME as ordered by the judge.

Get at least six (6) certified copies of your Decree of Adoption of an Adult from the clerk while you are there. The clerk may charge a fee for the certified copies. Three (3) copies are for you and three (copies) are for the adult adoptee. Order more than six (6) if you think you might need more.

Important: You will not be able to get certified copies of the Decree of Adoption of an Adult without going to court and asking a judge to formally unseal the adoption file. It is very important that you order as many certified copies at this time as you and the adult adoptee might ever need so that you do not have to go to court to ask a judge to unseal the adoption file in the future. 

Ask for the original Certificate of Adoption, and get two (2) copies of the Certificate of Adoption from the clerk while you are there. The clerk may charge a fee for the copies. You will use the original Certificate of Adoption to order a new birth certificate of the adult adoptee. 

 

 

Step 9: After your case is finished

Follow these steps after your case is finished.

Give three (3) certified copies of the Decree of Adoption of an Adult signed by the judge to the adult you adopted.

  • Send the original Certificate of Adoption (VS-160) to the Vital Statistics Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services together with a VS 140 - Texas Birth Certificate Application and the required fees. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. This step is required for the central adoption registry and to order the new birth certificate. Follow the instructions on the instruction sheet of the forms VS-160 and VS-140. Call 888-963-7111 if you have questions on completing the Vital Statistics Unit forms. 

If a name change was ordered, the adult adoptee will want to notify these additional agencies of the name change:

 

Congratulations! You have finalized your adoption.