Texas Adoption Procedures: Key Information
Adopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a parent’s life. However, laws relating to adoption are often complex.
That is why it is important not only to possess a thorough understanding of all applicable adoption laws, but also to have guidance through the entire process. This helps avoid complications that can delay the process or ultimately result in an adoption denial.
Consent and communication are the two main adoption issues
Adoption is a legal proceeding involving the official termination of parental rights by a child’s birth parents. The child’s adoptive parents then take legal responsibility for all parental rights of the child.
Birth parents may choose the adoptive parents; however, a birth mother may not consent to adoption until 48 hours after the child’s birth. This rule also applies to a biological father who is married to the birth mother.
Even fathers who are not married to the birth mother must consent to the adoption. By law, the birth father must be notified of the mother’s intention to adopt the child. If the birth father’s whereabouts are unknown, a reasonable effort must be made to contact him.
Birth parents may officially sign all legal documents relating to the child’s adoption any time after this 48-hour waiting period. Consent is not necessary when:
- Parental rights have been officially terminated
- The child unintentionally survived a planned abortion
- The child’s birth is the result of a crime
If the biological mother suffers from mental illness and is unable to care for the child, consent is also unnecessary.
Consent is revocable within the first 10 days of signing the adoption papers. If the birth parents properly revoke their consent within the applicable time limit, the child is typically returned.
Texas law allows communication between birth and adoptive parents. The terms of communication are documented in a Trust Agreement.
However, adoptive parents reserve the right to modify this agreement at any time and may choose to limit or prevent contact between the child and his or her birth parents. An adoptive child who is forbidden from communicating with birth parents must wait until reaching adulthood before attempting contact.
Texas requires a six-month monitoring period for adoptive parents
In order to become an adoptive parent, an individual must be over 18 years of age. Additionally, if the potential adoptive parents are married, the petition for adoption must come from both parties.
Prospective adoptive parents may not advertise for birth parents. Rather, a qualified intermediary such as an attorney is normally used to facilitate the adoption process.
There are several procedures involved with ensuring adoptive parents are qualified to adopt a child. Home screening is mandatory, and the criminal histories of both adoptive parents are carefully scrutinized.
The adoption process is not complete until the child resides with the adoptive parents for a period of six months. The situation is monitored by a licensed child placement agency during this time.
The adoption is officially finalized at the end of the six months during a court proceeding. In some circumstances, a court may waive this six-month period if it is in the best interests of the child.
Individuals wishing to adopt a child should contact an experienced adoption lawyer. A skilled adoption lawyer understands the emotional stress and anticipation felt by both parents before an adoption.
The lawyer can act in the role of a counselor and provide advice to parents on the most efficient method of transferring parental rights. This ensures the least traumatic transition for the adopted child.