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Adoption Process in Texas

Adoption Process in Texas: What You Need to Know [2023]

Adoption is a beautiful journey that brings joy and forever homes to countless children. But the road to adoption in Texas can also be an emotional roller coaster. With so many twists and turns, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s so important to have the right legal guidance.

Whether you’re a stepparent, grandparent, or just someone with love to share understanding the adoption process in Texas is crucial. At Varghese Summersett, our experienced adoption attorneys can help you navigate this exciting time and ensure a successful adoption.

In this article, our Fort Worth adoption lawyers will explain the adoption process in Texas and answer some frequently asked questions.

What is an Adoption in Texas?

Adoption in Texas is a legal process through which an individual or a couple assumes parental rights and responsibilities for a child, permanently severing the legal relationship between the child and their biological parents. This process results in the formation of a new, legally recognized family unit. The adoptive parents take on all legal, financial, and emotional responsibilities for the child, and the child gains the same legal rights and benefits as if they were the biological child of the adoptive parents.

To complete an adoption in Texas, prospective adoptive parents must comply with state laws and regulations. These laws are designed to ensure the best interests of the child and protect the rights of all parties involved in the adoption process in Texas.

When Can a Child Be Adopted in Texas?

In Texas, any adult may adopt a child as long as specific conditions are met, and the adoption process is successfully completed. Here are some of the primary requirements and situations in which a child can be adopted:

  • Termination of parental rights: The biological parent’s rights must be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily, before an adoption can take place. This ensures that the adoptive parents can assume full legal, financial, and emotional responsibility for the child.
  • Consent: In some cases, consent is required from the child, the child’s legal guardian, or the managing conservator before proceeding with the adoption. In Texas, a child who is 12 years old or older must provide their consent for the adoption, unless the court determines that it is not in the child’s best interest to obtain their consent.
  • Home study: Prospective adoptive parents must complete a home study conducted by a licensed caseworker. The home study evaluates the prospective parents’ ability to provide a stable, loving, and supportive environment for the child.
  • Eligibility: Adoptive parents must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being at least 21 years old, financially stable, and able to pass a criminal background check.
  • Waiting period: There may be a waiting period or legal requirements related to when a child can be adopted. For example, in Texas, a birth mother cannot sign the affidavit of voluntary relinquishment until 48 hours after the birth of the child.Also, a child can be adopted after living with the petitioner for six months, but this requirement can be waived if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child. An experienced adoption attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your unique situation and advise on the waiting period in your specific adoption process.
  • Finalization: Once all the requirements have been met, and the adoption process is complete, the prospective adoptive parents must attend a court hearing to finalize the adoption. The judge will review the case and grant the adoption if it is determined to be in the child’s best interest.

Does a Texas Adoption Require Termination of Biological Parental Rights?

Yes, in Texas, an adoption requires the termination of biological parental rights. The termination of parental rights is a legal process that permanently severs the relationship between a child and their biological parent(s.) This is necessary to allow the adoptive parents to assume full legal, financial, and emotional responsibility for the child, creating a new, legally recognized family unit.

Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. In a voluntary termination, the biological parent(s) willingly consent to relinquish their rights and responsibilities towards the child. They sign legal documents, such as affidavits of voluntary relinquishment, to formalize their consent.

In an involuntary termination, the court may decide to terminate a biological parent’s rights if it is determined that doing so is in the best interest of the child. This can occur in cases where the biological parent has abused, neglected, or abandoned the child, or when they have consistently failed to provide financial or emotional support.

Once the termination of parental rights is complete, the biological parent(s) no longer have any legal rights or responsibilities regarding the child, and the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents with all the rights and responsibilities that come with parenthood.

Terminating Parental Rights

What are the Steps in the Adoption Process in Texas?

The adoption process involves a number of steps, including an adoption home study, filing legal documents, and attending a court hearing. Each adoption process may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Here is a general overview of the adoption process in Texas and, more specifically, in Tarrant County.

  1. Contact an Experienced Adoption Attorney: An experienced family law attorney plays a crucial role in the adoption process by providing legal advice, guidance, and representation. Once you have hired an attorney, he or she will start the adoption process and advocate on your behalf.
  2. File for Adoption: Once you are ready to adopt, you will need to file a petition for adoption in court. Your adoption attorney will help you prepare the necessary paperwork and represent you in court.
  3. Connect with your case worker. Shortly after you file a petition for adoption, a case worker – also referred to as an adoption evaluator – will be assigned to conduct your Adoption Home Study. The caseworker will send you a list of required documents per Chapter 162 of the Family Code, as well as any necessary consent forms. They will also provide instructions for obtaining fingerprints.
  4. Schedule the home visit/interview. Make sure that you schedule a time when all individuals living in the home, either part-time or full-time, are present.
  5. Complete tasks. During the waiting period, before the home visit, complete the following tasks:
    • Obtain medical health checks for the adopting parent and the child being adopted.
    • Update vaccination records for your pets.
    • Send the adopting parents’ references to the evaluator.
    • Provide documentation for prior divorces and custody arrangements.
    • Submit any other documents requested by the adoption evaluator.
  6. Home Visit/Interviews take place. A home study is an evaluation of the prospective adoptive family’s home and background, to ensure that the home is safe and suitable for a child. The home study process includes background checks, interviews with the prospective parents, and visits to the home
  7. Preparation & Submission of Report. The adoption evaluator prepares a report, allowing the parents to review and correct any errors related to names, dates, and events. Once all documents are received and the report is accurate, the adoption evaluator submits the report to the court and the attorney of record.
  8. Finalize the Adoption: Your attorney will arrange a court date to finalize the adoption. This involves completing all necessary legal paperwork, including obtaining a new birth certificate for the child with your name listed as the parent. Once the adoption is finalized, the child becomes a legal member of your family.

How Does the Court Make an Adoption Decision in Texas?

In Texas, the primary consideration for a court making an adoption decision is the best interests of the child. The court will examine various factors to determine whether the adoption will be in the child’s best interests, including reviewing all reports and documents and hearing testimony from all involved parties.

What does an Experienced Family Law Attorney Do in an Adoption?

An experienced family law attorney plays a crucial role in the adoption process by providing legal advice, guidance, and representation. Some of their responsibilities in an adoption case include:

  1. Explaining the adoption process: The attorney helps prospective adoptive parents understand the different types of adoption and the specific legal processes and requirements involved in each.
  2. Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations: The attorney ensures that all necessary legal procedures are followed and that the adoption complies with state and federal laws and regulations.
  3. Drafting and reviewing legal documents: The attorney prepares and reviews legal documents required for the adoption, such as petitions, affidavits of voluntary relinquishment, consents, and adoption agreements.
  4. Representing clients in court: The attorney represents the adoptive parents in court hearings related to the adoption, such as termination of parental rights and finalization of the adoption.
  5. Facilitating communication: The attorney serves as an intermediary between the adoptive parents, the biological parents (if applicable), and other relevant parties.
  6. Protecting clients’ rights and interests: The attorney advocates for the best interests of the adoptive parents and the child, ensuring that their rights are protected throughout the adoption process.
  7. Addressing any post-adoption legal issues: The attorney can assist with any legal matters that may arise after the adoption is finalized, such as post-adoption contact agreements, birth certificate updates, or any disputes related to the adoption.

FAQs About the Adoption Process in Texas

How long does the adoption process take in Texas?

The adoption process in Texas can take anywhere from a few months to years, depending on the type of adoption and the circumstances of the case.

Can I adopt a child if I have a criminal record in Texas?

Each adoption case is unique, and a criminal record does not necessarily disqualify you from adopting. In fact, our attorneys have facilitated numerous adoptions involving a client who has had a brush with the law. Our adoption attorneys can explain if or how your background may impact your ability to adopt a child.

Can I adopt my stepchild without the other parent’s rights being terminated?

No. Because children in Texas may only have one legal set of parents, adoption requires that the parental rights of one or both of the biological parents be terminated to make space for the exclusive rights of the new, adoptive parent(s).

Who can adopt a child in Texas?

In Texas, any adult may adopt a child. However, if the person seeking to adopt is married, both spouses must agree to the adoption, unless the other spouse is legally declared incompetent or has had their parental rights terminated. Texas law does not discriminate against single people, same-sex couples, or people of any particular race or religion.

What are the types of adoptions in Texas?

What are the types of adoptions in Texas?

  • Stepparent Adoption: Stepparent adoption is when a stepparent legally adopts their spouse’s child, becoming the child’s legal parent and assuming all parental rights and responsibilities of the child. Stepparent adoptions can be relatively straightforward, as long as the noncustodial biological parent consents to the adoption or has had their parental rights terminated.
  • Grandparent Adoption: In some cases, grandparents may adopt their grandchildren when the biological parents are unable or unwilling to provide proper care and support.
  • Relative Adoption: Relative adoptions are adoptions in which a child is adopted by a relative, such as an aunt, uncle, or sibling. Relative adoptions can be a good option for families who want to keep a child within the family and maintain familial relationships.
  • Private Adoption: Private adoption is when a birth parent voluntarily places their child for adoption with an adoptive family. This type of adoption often involves an adoption agency or an attorney who helps match prospective adoptive parents with a child.
  • Agency Adoption: Agency adoptions are facilitated by licensed adoption agencies that screen, educate, and support adoptive families throughout the adoption process. These agencies also provide counseling and support to birth parents.
  • International Adoption: International adoption involves adopting a child from another country. Prospective adoptive parents must meet specific requirements and follow the adoption laws of both the United States and the child’s country of origin.
Do I need a lawyer to adopt a child in Texas?

While it’s not required to have a lawyer to adopt a child in Texas, it’s highly recommended. An experienced adoption attorney can provide legal guidance and ensure that all necessary legal requirements are met. A lawyer can also represent you in court during the adoption process, which can be helpful if any issues arise.

Considering Adoption? Contact Us.

The adoption process in Texas can be complex and overwhelming, but it can also be a wonderful way to complete your family. By understanding the legal requirements and the steps involved in the adoption process in Texas, you can ensure that your adoption journey is a success.

If you’re considering adoption in Fort Worth, Tarrant County or the surrounding areas,  it’s important to work with a compassionate and experienced adoption attorney who can guide you through the process and provide the support you need. Call us today at (817) 900-3220 or contact us online to get started.

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