Adopting a child can be one of the happiest and most rewarding experiences in life. Creating or adding to your family in this manner enriches everyone involved. If you wish to adopt a child, whether privately or through a public agency, Houston adoption lawyer at The Tholstrup Law Firm, L.P. can provide the guidance and representation you need as you work through the various steps of the process.
What Is Involved in Adoption?
Children can only have one set of legal parents. In adoption, this means that the parental rights of the biological parent(s) must be terminated so that the adoptive parents will have exclusive legal rights to the child. The termination of parental rights for this purpose may be done voluntarily or involuntarily through court procedures.
Who Can Adopt in Texas?
Any adult may adopt a child as long as they prove their eligibility to do so through the adoption process. Texas law even provides for adult adoptions. No age limitations are placed on the adoptive parents, as reflected by the large number of grandparent adoptions done in Texas. The adoptive parents must be able to care for the child to the age of majority (age 18). However, no income requirements have been established under law. Texas adoptions may be pursued by single adults as well as married couples, straight as well as LGBTQ individuals and couples.
Types of Adoption Can Include:
- Infant adoptions. These are generally private matters created through contracted arrangements made between biological parents and the adoptive parents.
- Stepparent adoptions. These are the most common type of adoption in Texas where a new spouse adopts a child by marriage.
- Relative adoptions. These involve adoptions of grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
- Foster child adoptions. These are done through the Department of Family and Protective Services.
- Interstate and state adoptions. All U.S. states take part in the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
- International adoptions. These are subject to state, federal, and international rules.
- LGBTQ adoptions. These generally include surrogacy or the adoption of your partner’s biological child.
In all cases, the court must find that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. It is rare/almost impossible that a court would approve an adoption by two unmarried adults, homosexual or heterosexual. Furthermore, adoption requirements may vary based on the type of adoption you pursue.
The average timeframe for the adoption process in Texas takes six to nine months. However, the time spent preparing and learning for adoption varies on age, sex of the child, and other factors on how soon placing a child can take.
How Does the Adoption Process Work?
- According to Texas adoption law, anyone seeking to adopt a child must provide a criminal background check and go through a screening of their home environment by a court-appointed agency.
- A court will not grant an adoption until the child has resided in the new home for at least six months unless a waiver of this requirement is deemed to be in the child’s best interests.
- An ad litem (guardian) is appointed by the court to represent the interests of the child. This person interviews all the parties involved with the child and makes an evaluation of whether the adoption will be in the best interests of the child.
- A health, social, educational and genetic history may be required of the biological parents.
Once all the foregoing is completed, the adoptive parents and the child must make a court appearance to prove up the adoption and get an Order of Adoption entered with the Texas court.
What Are the Requirements to Adopt a Child in Texas?
In order to adopt in Texas, specific requirements must first be met that are laid out by state law. For example, only individuals that are at least 21 can adopt and must agree to a background check being performed.
Other Requirements for Adoption in Texas Include:
- Must be financially secure, responsible, and mature
- Must provide marriage or divorce documentation
- Must consent to a home study
- Must offer references
- Must provide information regarding background
Regardless, if it is a single individual or couple that is choosing to adopt, all requirements must be met. If you have any questions regarding the adoption process in Texas or would like the legal guidance of a skilled Houston adoption attorney, feel free to reach out to The Tholstrup Law Firm, L.P..
How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child in Texas?
The cost of adoption will depend on the circumstances, such as whether an agency is involved, if the adoption involves a surrogate mother, if the child is from a foreign country, etc. A fair range of costs are $2,500 to $35,000, depending on the complexity of the case. A federal tax credit (not deduction) of +$10,000.00 may be available to offset the cost of adoption.
What Is a Private Adoption?
A private adoption varies from other forms of adoption as the birth parents are involved in the process as they can create an adoption plan and often select the adoptive family. The adoptive parents and birth parents then create an agreement where parental rights are given to the adoptive parents. This is common with infant adoptions. While a private adoption in Texas typically involves an adoption agency, it’s best to obtain an attorney for proper legal representation throughout the process.
The Houston Adoption Lawyer to Turn To
Our firm is backed by 25 years of family law legal experience in helping individuals and families throughout Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and The Woodlands. We know that the adoption process can be stressful and even intimidating. However, our Houston adoption attorney is committed to providing the in-depth service you need in this valuable and critical matter.
Contact our adoption lawyer in Houston today to set up a free consultation.