Texas adoption attorneys
Texas adoption lawyers help clients place adopted children in their homes and clients place their children in adoptive homes. It is important to know your rights and responsibilities during and after the adoption process. Having an attorney on your side can help make the process smoother and give you the information you need to make important decisions.
Adoption cases range from couples seeking a child to add to their family because they cannot or do not want a child born in the home to helping place children out of dangerous homes into safe homes. These include:
- Adoptions from adoption agencies
- Stepparent adoptions
- Grandparent adoptions
- Same sex adoptions
- Voluntary parental terminations
- Abandoned children
- Addiction and other dangerous home conditions
- Child abuse and neglect
Experienced family adoption attorneys understand that these situations involve different family and legal issues. The legal steps in each of these situations differ and having a family law attorney on your side advising you and helping you navigating the steps in your case will help achieve the outcome you desire.
How the adoption process works in Texas
In Texas all adoptions require approval from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DPS) through required investigation of the adoptive family. The Texas Family Code requires a thorough home study performed by a social worker. Additionally, every member of the family must pass a criminal background check. As part of the home study DPS requires:
- The parents to be at least 21 years of age
- Prove they are financially stable
- Capable of caring for the child’s emotional and physical needs
- Provide information about their backgrounds and lifestyle
- Provide both relative and non-relative references
- Show proof of marriage or divorce as needed
- Complete DPS training on abused and neglected children
If the adoption requires one or more parent to relinquish their parental rights, then your adoption attorney can file the necessary petition to terminate parental rights as part of the adoption process.
After DPS gives preliminary approval for adoption there is an ongoing process before the adoption can be finalized. DPS will conduct several in-home visits after placement to observe the condition of the home and the children. If DPS continues to approve placement, then your adoption attorney can ask the judge to approve and finalize the adoption.
Adopting a child from an adoption agency in Texas
One way to find a child for adoption is to contact an adoption agency. Adoption agencies vary in their focus from placing local foster children to international adoptions. You can expect to pay several thousand dollars for the adoption agency to place a child with you. You should have your adoption attorney review the paperwork before signing.
You will still need to complete all of the steps for a non-agency adoption even if you work with an agency. The adoption agency can assist with the process but cannot act as an attorney for you in court.
Grandparent and stepparent adoptions in Texas
Sometimes grandparents want to adopt a grandchild or a person wants to adopt a stepchild. These cases can be more complex than a standard adoption. The grandparent or stepparent must complete all of the steps of a regular adoption; however, the parental rights of the biological parents become an issue.
A child cannot have an unlimited number of legal parents in Texas so before a grandparent or stepparent can adopt a child it may be necessary to terminate the rights of one or more parent. A parent may agree to voluntarily terminate rights and allow the adoption to proceed. If the parent contests the adoption, then the alternative is to pursue an involuntary termination. An involuntary termination requires serious harm or neglect to the child. Your adoption attorney can talk to you about whether the situation merits an involuntary termination and what you will have to prove in court.
Prepare for a Texas adoption
An adoption in Texas is an expensive and lengthy process. Prepare for a marathon rather than a sprint. Even a typical adoption will cost thousands of dollars and require a lot of work. If terminating parental rights is part of your adoption, then prepare for additional cost, time and work. It is easy to get lost in the process. There are government agencies, other parents, courts, attorneys and other parties involved. They all have their own interests and parts to play in the adoption. Having an experienced adoption attorney on your side will give you an advocate among all the other voices. Your adoption attorney will advocate for your role as an adoptive parent and help make the process as easy as possible.