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Can I adopt my stepchild in Texas?

One of the main reasons families decide to adopt a child in Texas is because it gives them the opportunity to complete their family and give a child a loving, nurturing environment for them to grow up in. One type of adoption is a stepparent adoption, in which the spouse of a parent requests the adoption court for legal parental rights of the children of their spouse. The only difference between a regular adoption and a stepparent adoption is that one of the parents is related to the child.

The first thing that is needed for a stepparent adoption to take place is the consent of biological parent that will be relinquishing his or her rights to the child. Consent to adoption means the parent giving consent is giving up all their legal parental rights with regard to the child in question, including child support obligations. The only exception to this rule is if the parent's rights have been terminated due to abandonment, unfitness, failure to pay child support or neglect.

Unfortunately, due to various reasons one parent may try to withhold consent. In this situation, it might be possible to get their rights terminated. The first scenario in which this can take place is if it is possible to show that the parent abandoned the child. This means either the parent has not communicated with the child or has not provided child support continuously for a long period time. The second instance in which parental rights can be terminated is if the parent is unfit. The court generally will conduct a fitness hearing to make a determination with regards to fitness. Facts such as addictions, abuse, neglect and mental disturbance and failures to visit will all be considered at this hearing.

Adopting a stepchild is one way to give a spouse's child stability and certainty during an otherwise difficult time. It can also work towards strengthening the bond between both the family as a whole, and the stepparent and stepchild separately. Though the legalities may seem daunting at first, it may be helpful to consult an experienced attorney for guidance throughout the process.

Source: FindLaw, "Stepparent Adoption: FAQs," Accessed on Nov. 14, 2016

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