Adoption can be an exciting development for a couple or family. However, the legal process can be very challenging. It is wise to approach the adoption process with an experienced Houston adoption lawyer. At Eddington & Worley, we want to support you as you expand your family. We can handle the legal aspects while you take care of everything else. If you’re planning an adoption, reach out to us for the help you will need.
When you work with our Houston family law attorney, you will get clarity on the state’s adoption laws. You will learn how they relate specifically to your family. Our attorneys can help with all the legal requirements surrounding adoption. Whether you need guidance on filling out paperwork or arranging an international adoption, we have the skills you need. Call today and we will do everything we can to ensure the process runs smoothly.
- 1 What is Adoption?
- 2 How Do I Begin the Adoption Process?
- 3 What is the Difference Between Adoption vs Closed Adoption?
- 4 How is Private Adoption Different than Agency Adoption?
- 5 What is The Investigation Process for People Looking to Adopt?
- 6 Contact a Houston Adoption Lawyer at Eddington & Worley for the Guidance You Need
What is Adoption?
Adoption refers to the transfer of parental rights from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. It is a procedure which makes the adoptive parents legally responsible for the child. A new birth certificate is issued with the names of the adoptive parents listed as the birth parents. The old certificate is sealed, and it can only be opened by a court order. Usually, only the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adopted person can access it.
Adoptions in Texas can take varying forms: open, anonymous, through an agency, or private. People who want to adopt must file a court petition and go through several steps. A number of supporting documents are required, and an adoption attorney can guide you in ensuring everything is done correctly.
Who is Able to Adopt in Houston?
When adoption occurs within a family, it is known as a relative adoption. Sometimes stepparents want to formalize their relationship with their spouse’s child. Aunts, uncles, or grandparents may also want to adopt children if their parents can’t properly care for them. Relative adoptions can only take place if both of the birth parents give consent.
While children are usually the ones who get adopted, Texas allows the adoption of an adult. The person seeking to adopt must be older and the individual they want to adopt must agree to the process. There is no need for the birth parents’ rights to be terminated in an adult adoption.
Under Texas law, any adult can seek to adopt a child. Most often, married couples apply but divorced and single people also have the right to adopt. Married couples must adopt together. This means one can’t request to adopt a child without the approval of their spouse. Adoptive parents don’t need to be of any particular social background or income level to qualify. However, they will have to demonstrate that they can adequately care for the child. It is against the law to discriminate against potential adoptive parents based on race or ethnicity.
How Do I Begin the Adoption Process?
Before the adoption of a child, the birth parents must surrender their legal parental rights. They must do so by voluntarily signing a document. Parental rights can also be terminated involuntarily if the court deems the parents to be incompetent. This occurs if a parent abandons their child, abuses them, or otherwise shows they are incapable of being a parent. In most cases, birth parents give up their rights freely. After the parents relinquish their rights, the adoption agency is responsible for the child until the adoption is complete.
When the birth parents surrender their rights, they must make it clear they want to place the child for adoption. They must also state their belief that adoption is best for the child. Even if the child’s biological father isn’t involved in their life, effort must be made to locate him. This is necessary before the adoption can be finalized. One option is to place a notice in the leading newspaper in the county where he is believed to reside. If the father cannot be located, the adoption can be completed once notice is given.
If you’re adopting a baby, the birth mother has 48 hours after the birth to confirm her consent. When she signs the relinquishment form, it must be witnessed by two people and verified by a notary. This is done to ensure the mother is making the decision of her own free will. After she signs the form, her consent can’t be withdrawn for 60 days. During this period, a judge will decide whether to terminate parental rights.
There are a few other considerations you should bear in mind. Children over the age of 12 usually need to consent to their adoption. In addition, it is illegal to pay a birth parent or another individual for the right to adopt a baby. When you are desperate to add to your family, you may want to pay. However, this is a violation of the law. You are only permitted to cover reasonable costs concerning the adoption. These expenses can include the birth mother’s medical costs and certain attorney’s fees.
What is the Difference Between Adoption vs Closed Adoption?
You’ve likely heard about open and closed adoptions, but you may not be sure what each entails. An open adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive parents know each other. They also stay in contact after the child has been adopted. When the birth and adoptive parents don’t know each other and don’t communicate, the adoption is deemed closed. Most open adoptions are arranged privately among the parties. Attorneys, doctors, and friends are often the conduits through which such connections are made.
Open and closed adoptions are just two of the options available to people who want to grow their families. Adoptions require lots of openness and trust by the individuals involved and they can become quite complex. It is important that both adoptive and birth parents understand the role they are expected to play. Communication is key and a Houston adoption lawyer can help to improve the process. At Eddington & Worley, we ensure our clients’ interests are protected and the child’s well-being is prioritized.
How is Private Adoption Different than Agency Adoption?
A private adoption is one where the child is placed from the birth parents directly with the adopting parents. This is done without the help of an agency. The parents usually meet through mutual friends or other informal methods. However, the adoption must still go through formal legal processes. The adopting parents still have to file a request to adopt. They also have to go through many of the same procedures as with an agency adoption.
In an agency adoption, both sets of parents go through an adoption agency. The agency may be state-licensed or private. When going this route, the birth parents surrender their parental rights to the agency. Most adoptions in the United States are done this way and they are usually anonymous. While the parents may get some basic information about each other, most of the details are confidential.
What is The Investigation Process for People Looking to Adopt?
People who want to adopt have to undergo extensive investigations. If they go through an agency, an agency worker will ask them a variety of questions and look into their background. If the adoption is arranged without an agency, a private or public entity will still have to investigate. These interviews are called home studies or social studies. They include investigations into the prospective parents’ medical, criminal, marital and employment history. Agencies also seek to determine whether potential parents are ready for the responsibility of caring for a child. Some of the things which will be considered are whether:
- Both people are eager to adopt in the case of a couple
- The house is clean and safe and has enough room for a child
- One parent will stay at home or if the child will be sent to daycare
- The prospective parents have experience with children
- The prospective parents can afford to have a child
Agencies also take a close look at the child’s needs and history. They create a record which includes their medical, educational, and genetic backgrounds. Adoption agencies also make note of whether there is a history of abuse. This is information potential adopting parents will need to help them relate to the child and prepare to nurture him or her.
Contact a Houston Adoption Lawyer at Eddington & Worley for the Guidance You Need
As you can see, there’s a lot involved in arranging an adoption. While it will be a thrilling time for your family, there are also lots of challenges. A Houston adoption lawyer can help you throughout the entire process. We can assist you with filing the petition to adopt and then help you get ready for the home study. Whether you’re planning a private adoption, agency adoption or international adoption, we can help you to navigate the legal system. Call to schedule a consultation today and start the process of growing your family.