Adoption is the legal process by which an individual or a couple legally takes responsibility to care for a minor child. Absent exceptional circumstances, adoption is permanent, and courts want to ensure that a family who seeks to adopt a child is emotionally and financially ready to take on the responsibility. Thus, while the Texas adoption process is often a joyful time, it can also be very stressful. At the Law Office of Jason Wright, we help individuals and families through this complicated process. Attorney Jason Wright is a practical Austin family law attorney who commands advanced knowledge of Texas adoption laws. With his help, you can make the adoption process as smooth as possible.
Who Can Be Adopted?
There are currently about seven million Americans who are adopted or about two percent of the population. Each year, more than 135,000 children are adopted. However, the presumption in the law is that a child’s biological parents will raise them. Thus, Texas law does not allow for a child to be adopted by another person or family unless certain conditions are present. To legally adopt a child who lives in Texas, one of the following situations must apply:
• The parental rights of the child’s parents must have been terminated, or a petition for termination must be filed at the same time as the petition to adopt;
• A parent whose parental rights remain intact is married to the person seeking adoption; for example, a step-parent seeks adoption of their partner’s child; or
• The child is at least two years old, one of the child’s parent’s parental rights have been terminated, and the person seeking adoption has either served as a managing conservator or has cared for the child for the past year.
As you can see, adoption law can be quite complex. This is especially the case when adoption is contested by a biological parent whose parental rights are at stake. Having the assistance of an experienced Austin adoption attorney can be critical to ensuring a smooth and efficient adoption process.
What Are the Requirements to Adopt a Child in Texas?
While Texas wants to encourage individuals and families to adopt children, lawmakers want to ensure that children are placed in safe, loving, and long-term homes. Along those lines, you must meet the following minimum criteria before you are eligible to adopt a child in Texas:
• You must be at least 21 years old
• You must be financially stable
• You must be deemed responsible and mature
• You must pass a background check
• You must provide all requested personal information
• You must provide references
• You must provide proof of marriage (if applying as a married couple)
• You must complete a home visit (in most counties)
• You must complete a training course on child abuse and neglect
• Everyone in your house must complete a criminal background check and child abuse check.
Before a judge names you the parent of a child, they must determine that allowing the adoption to go through is in the child’s best interests. An Austin family law attorney can be a significant help in proving that you and your family are the right fit for a child.
What Is the Difference Between Fostering a Child and Adopting a Child?
Fostering a child and adopting a child both involve assuming physical care of a child. However, the two terms refer to very different situations. The need for a child to go into foster care typically arises quickly, often in response to an emergency. For example, if a child’s parents are suddenly deemed unfit to raise them, are incarcerated, or abandon the child. Foster care is generally seen as a temporary solution. Along those lines, the process of fostering a child is easier. About half of all children entering the foster care system are eventually reunited with their biological parents. However, children who are in foster care may be legally adopted. While a child may be adopted by the person or couple providing foster care, that is not always the case.
Adoption, on the other hand, is permanent. Once the adoption process is complete, the child will not return to their biological parents because their parental rights must have been terminated as a prerequisite to the adoption. Because adoption is permanent, it is a much lengthier and involved process.
Those looking to adopt a child in foster care should reach out to a dedicated Austin family law attorney for assistance.
Steps to Adopting a Child in Texas
Individuals or families may choose to adopt for several reasons. However, regardless of whether you intend on adopting a loved one’s child or a child you have never met, there are certain steps you can take to streamline the process.
Determine You Are Ready to Adopt
Adoption is permanent. While recent surveys show that upwards of as many as 33 percent of people consider adoption, only about two percent go through with the process. The first thing you need to consider is whether you are financially and emotionally ready to adopt a child. It is essential to be honest with yourself when considering whether you are ready to adopt because the Department of Family Protective Services will conduct an in-depth interview and investigation process before you are deemed eligible to adopt.
Consider Your Adoption Options
You may intend on adopting a loved one’s child, either because the child’s parents cannot provide the level of care the child needs or because you are in a serious relationship with the child’s biological parent. On the other hand, you may be wanting to bring a child into your family from foster care or an adoption placement agency. An international adoption is also an option.
Become Eligible to Adopt
One mistake many adoptive parents make is waiting until the last minute to become eligible to adopt. You must take specific steps to qualify to become an adoptive parent, and you should complete these steps before you identify a child you want to adopt. An experienced Austin adoption attorney can help you understand the steps and guide you through the process. For example, an attorney can explain the types of questions that the Department of Family Protective Services is likely to ask you so that you can be prepared for the interview and home visit.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is an Open Adoption?
Open adoption is when the adoptive parents agree with the child’s biological parents to keep in touch throughout the child’s life. This means that the adoptive parents will often facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and their biological parent or parents. Recent studies suggest that between 60 to 70 percent of adoptions are open adoptions. Texas allows for open adoptions in certain situations; however, there are certain situations when open adoptions are restricted.
Will I Have Contact with a Child’s Biological Parents?
Not unless you agree to it. Both a child’s biological and adoptive parents must agree to open adoption. So, if you are not interested in your adoptive child maintaining a relationship with their birth parents, you are free not to agree to open adoption.
How Long Does a Texas Adoption Take?
Every adoption is different, and it is difficult to know how long an adoption will take without first consulting with an Austin adoption lawyer. However, in general, the adoption process can be as quick as six months or as long as several years. One of the primary factors for how long an adoption will take is whether the biological parents’ parental rights have already been terminated.
Can an Adopted Child’s Biological Parents Take a Child Back After They Have Been Adopted?
No. Once an adoption is finalized, the child’s biological parents no longer have parental rights and will not be able to remove a child from an adoptive family. However, in voluntary adoptions, the child’s family can change their mind until the process is complete.
If you are looking to add an adoptive child to your family, it is important that you are prepared for the journey the lies ahead. Adoptive parents who embark on this journey without the assistance of an Austin adoption attorney often find it to be unnecessarily stressful and overwhelming. At the Law Office of Jason Wright, we help individuals and couples through the adoption process with ease. Attorney Wright has extensive experience working with families from all backgrounds and understands how to streamline the Texas adoption process, making it easier for you and your family. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with an Austin adoption lawyer today, call 512-884-1221 today. You can also reach the Law Office of Jason Wright through our online contact form.
To get in touch with us, give us a call at 512-884-1221 or submit the form below. We are committed to zealously working to find the solution that is best for you and your family.