Dampier v. Williams, 493 S.W.3d 118 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2016, no pet.).


Adoption by Estoppel


After Intestate died, Tracy claimed that he was Intestate’s sole heir as his adopted by estoppel son. The trial court rejected Tracy’s claim because the alleged acts of estoppel occurred after Tracy reached age eighteen. Tracy appealed.


The appellate court affirmed. The court recognized that Tracy and Intestate had a very close father-son relationship for over thirty years. However, the relationship started when Tracy was an adult so there was never a legal impediment to a formal adoption. And, of course, Intestate could have executed a will in Tracy’s favor. Accordingly, Intestate’s unperformed oral promise to adopt Tracy did not operate to create a parent-child relationship by estoppel. Every Texas case where adoption by estoppel was deemed to exist involved a child who was a minor at the time the adoption by estoppel acts occurred.


Moral:  An adult may not be adopted by estoppel.