Adoption is one of the most rewarding things a family can do. Adoption enriches the lives of the children as well as the families who open up their homes and hearts. Texas allows for a number of ways to adopt a child. However, no matter which process is used, the adoption process can be lengthy and difficult. At The Queenan Law Firm, we do not want a lengthy process to deter anyone from considering adopting a child. Therefore, our Dallas adoption attorneys are here to guide you through the process and help make the adoption process easier and more efficient. Call our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation on your adoption case
The Different Types of Adoption
Every state has their own adoption programs as well as their own legal and licensed adoption agencies. While the process is not exactly the same in every state, Texas adoption laws provide for four basic categories of adoption.
A private adoption is one in which the adoption occurs between a birth parent or family and an adoptive family. These relationships are usually established and maintained through an agency or through an adoption attorney who is licensed to oversee adoptions.
Private adoptions are categorized as either open or closed adoptions. In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive parents will meet under the guidance of an adoption agency or adoption attorneys who work out the details collectively. Conversely, in a closed adoption the birth parents choose not to meet. The birth parents and adoptive parents may choose not to have their identities revealed to each other and all arrangements for the adoption are made exclusively through an agency.
Private adoptions can include adopting through an agency that matches children with adoptive parents, adopting the child of a family member who is unable to care for the child, or adopting another child in your community in need of a home.
Child Protective Services (CPS) may also effectuate an adoption. This type of adoption typically involves children who have been removed from their former homes and whose parents have had their parental rights terminated due to situations involving abuse, neglect, or abandonment. In these cases, CPS may ask the court to end the parent’s rights and place the child or children with a foster family on a temporary basis or place them with another permanent family.
Parents who are interested in adopting a child will have to meet certain minimum requirements:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Be in good physical health
- Pass a criminal background check
- Be able to financially provide for a child
- If married, have been married for at least 2 years
In addition, the child generally must live in the prospective parent’s home for at least six months before an adoption will be finalized.
As the name implies, international adoption is for adopting children from another country. These adoptions are arranged through agencies that deal with children of any age from other countries who are looking to be placed into adoptive homes. As you can imagine, international adoptions can be incredibly complex.
When a parent or family is interested in adopting a child from another country, they often must begin by contacting the adoption agency in the child’s home country. This agency will have its own approval process and may require parents to visit the country multiple times before considering them as potential parents.
You will also need to apply for an immigration visa for the child, which will allow them entry into the United States. Applying for a visa can be complex and trying for many parents who are seeking to adopt a child from overseas. In addition, an international adoption must comply with the Hague Convention for International Adoptions. This complex international law is designed to ensure that children are not being abducted and illegally trafficked to other countries.
Stepparent adoptions are arguably very different from many other types of adoption, but they still warrant discussion. Because there is already an established relationship with the child or children in most cases, stepparent adoptions can be some of the easiest adoptions to effectuate. Being a stepparent in Texas gives you standing to file for adoption, but this does not mean that there aren’t potential conflicts and issues that can arise. Especially if the child’s other biological parent is reluctant to allow the adoption or give up any parenting time or parental rights, adopting your stepchild can be contentious.
How Does Adoption Work in Texas?
In child custody cases (called “conservatorship” cases in Texas), the purpose is to determine which adult, usually a parent, will care for the children in their household and who has the legal right to make decisions for the child. Adoption is a different question altogether because adoption determines who the legal parents are and who has standing to have custody of a child. The purpose of adoption is not simply to get the right to have your children live with you, but to be the child’s legal parent.
Children can typically only have 2 legal parents. This means that, in most cases, you must have the biological parent or parents give up their parental rights before you can adopt the child. This is part of the process required in every adoption case and must be approved by a judge in court.
In adoption cases where the birth parents are working with you to transfer parenting rights, this should go smoothly. However, issues can arise if a parent backs out or changes their mind about putting their child up for adoption. This can also be a problem if you are trying to have another parent stripped of parental rights so that you can adopt, such as in cases of stepparents adopting a child over the objection of an abusive parent or in cases where you are trying to adopt a child from a broken or dangerous home.
Alternatives to Adoption in Texas
Adoption is not always the best choice – or the only choice – for a family looking to take in and care for children. “Guardianships” are a potential way to become the legal care provider for a child on a temporary or need-based basis. This can give you the vocation of caring for a child or an adult with disabilities.
Alternatively, if you are not sure that permanent adoption is right for you at this time, you could become a foster parent. Texas is always in need of parents who can take in children in times of need or when their parents are unable to care for them because of arrests, serious illness, accidents, or death. Acting as a foster parent, you may even form a bond with a child that leads you to adopt them later.
Talk to a family law attorney about how to apply for these kinds of positions and how to get certified and licensed. In many cases, the process of getting approval to be a guardian or foster parent is very similar to the process of seeking approval for adoption.
Considering Adopting a Child and Seeking Help from a Dallas Adoption Lawyer?
If you or your family have decided to open up your home and your hearts to adopting a child, then contact us today. At The Queenan Law Firm, we provide affordable assistance to every client regardless if they are single or married. We understand that the adoption process is complex, and we know how devastating it can be if an application for adoption is denied because of a technicality. That is why we urge you to contact us today for a free consultation. Call The Queenan Law Firm at (817) 476-1797. With more than 20 years of legal experience representing mothers and fathers throughout the Dallas area, our Dallas family law attorneys are always eager to put our knowledge and skill to work for you.