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Step Parent Adoptions in Texas

February 5, 2010

A decent portion of my private practice includes clients pursuing a step-parent adoption.  The Texas Family Code does not distinguish between types of adoptions and therefore, all step-parent adoptions must include an adoption home study.  For many reasons, this is often a frustrating and cumbersome process for families.  Often, a step-parent adoption is pursued after the step-parent has already been parenting the child(ren) for many years.  The step-parent has often stepped seamlessly into the role of  parent and filled a void in the child’s life.  Being a step-parent is hard- and usually individuals who are interested in pursuing a step-parent adoption have done a great job of balancing their roles of step-parent and spouse.  They have successfully navigated the tricky dynamics of parenting a child that they did not (usually) raise from birth.  Step-parents are often the recipient of negative feelings that may actually fall more appropriately on the absent biological parent.  Step-parents are doing all of the day-to day-parenting, the good and the bad.

It’s understandable to me, then, that a step-parent may feel a touch of frustration at the home study process.  Home studies are invasive by nature.  They are demeaning and insulting because the adoptive parent is being required to PROVE their ability to parent.  Biological parents don’t have to prove their ability to parent.  And for all intents and purposes, most step-parents have already proven their ability to parent because they have BEEN PARENTING for years.

But, like I previously mentioned, the Texas Family Code does not differentiate between types of adoptions.  Therefore, a step parent who wants to adopt his or her step-children must prove they are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.  They must submit to background checks.  If something shows up on those background checks, they will likely have to participate in even more extensive risk assessments.  They must answer pages and pages of questions about the personal details of their past and present life.

I really enjoy completing step parent adoption home studies!  I believe that part of my role in your adoption is to make the home study process as simple and painless as possible.  I understand and empathize with the frustration involved and have the same goal as you do- to complete this adoption.  I take my job seriously and complete step parent adoptions as thoroughly as expected, based on the laws of this state.  I do this for my protection and for the family’s protection.  I appreciate that being a step-parent is hard and am consistently impressed at what a step-parent is willing to do for the children they have already grown to love as their flesh and blood.

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