Although an adoption agency is one way to achieve an adoption, the court process is a requirement. An adoption must go through court proceedings to be recognized as valid in the state of Texas. Because, the adoption process can be costly, it is essential that you hire an attorney that is experienced in this area so that the adoption process can be done right.
Brownsville Adoption Attorney
In order to ensure that your adoption suit is successful, it is recommended that you meet with an attorney who is knowledgeable in adoption. The adoption process can be delicate, you should always have and experienced attorney who knows Texas adoption laws. At The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. we understand your prospective child’s adoption is of the utmost importance to you, and you want to ensure that the adoption process is done right. Our attorneys will do everything in their power to make sure your adoption goes as smooth as possible.
Contact one of our family law attorneys at 956-504-2211 to schedule a consultation or fill out a free case review form at the bottom of the page.
We work with clients in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy.
Overview of Adoption in Brownsville
- How is a Child Available to be Adopted?
- What Qualifications Do I Need to Adopt a Child?
- What if the Child is Under Non-Parental Custody?
- Pre-Adoptive Home Screening
- Adoption Hearing
- Domestic vs. International Adoption
- Additional Resources
Chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code addresses the eligibility of adoptive parents and children. Tex. Fam. Code §162.001 determines that a child residing in this state Texas can be adopted if:
- The parent-child relationship between child and biological parent(s) is legally terminated, through the following:
- A suit for termination of parental rights was approved by a family court;
- A suit for termination of parental rights is attached to the adoption suit; or
- If the parent has signed an affidavit for relinquishment of parental rights and consents the Department of Family and Protective Services or a licensed child-placing agency to place the child in adoption, and releases conservatorship to the department or agency, no further parental consent is necessary.
- The parent whose parental rights are not terminated is the spouse of the petitioner for adoption—the petitioner is also the stepparent of the child being adopted;
- The child is at least 2 years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated for one parent, and the petitioner for adoption has had previous care for the child (for at least 6 months before the adoption) or is the child’s former stepparent and the parent whose rights have not been terminated has agreed; or
- The child is at least 2 years old; the parent-child relationship has been terminated for one parent, and the petitioner for adoption is the child’s stepparent and has had custody of the child or has cared for and had possession and control of the child for a period of one year before the adoption.
The court can also take into account the following:
- Health, social, educational, and genetic history of the child (i.e., birth, medical, psychological, and psychiatric issues, special education needs, history of abuse or neglect)
- The current situation of the child
- The child’s own consent to being adopted (if child is 12 years or older)
Eligibility to Adopt
The court can determine whether an individual is suitable for the adoption of the child, and take the following into consideration:
- The potential adoptive parent(s)’s:
- Background and lifestyle
- Financial status
- Medical Information
- Criminal record
- Relationship status
- Ability to care for child
- Home and social environment
- Previous relationship with the child (if, applicable)
- Previous relationship with the child’s birth parents (if, applicable)
Other potential requirements for prospective adoptive parents to consider include:
- A spouse to the prospective adoptive parent must also consent to the adoption and be included in the suit;
- The prospective adoptive parent must agree to an in-home visit where all members of the household may be visited and all parts of the home maybe inspected, or have an existing home study;
- The prospective adoptive parent must agree to attend training and obtain required certifications;
- The prospective adoptive parent must obtain various references (relative and non-relative); and
- The prospective adoptive parent must live with the child for at least 6 months before finalizing the adoption (Tex. Fam. Code §162.009).
Some of the eligibility for adoption may waived if the prospective adoptive parent is a family member of the child or has held previous conservatorship of the child, or it appears to be in the best interest of the child.
What if the Child is Under Non-Parental Custody?
If the child looking to be adopted is currently under the conservatorship or custody of someone other than the parent of the child, the conservator or custodian need to consent to the adoption of the child. Tex. Fam. Code §162.010(a) states, “Unless the managing conservator is the petitioner, the written consent of a managing conservator to the adoption must be filed. The court may waive the requirement of consent by the managing conservator if the court finds that the consent is being refused or has been revoked without good cause. A hearing on the issue of consent shall be conducted by the court without a jury.”
If the custodian of the child who is a nonparent refuses to give consent for adoption, the case may become that of a contested adoption. The proceedings for a contested adoption can evaluate the custodian’s reasoning behind refusal of consent, while reviewing the prospective adoptive parent(s) to see if they are best suited to adopt the child in those circumstances.
Pre-Adoptive Home Screening
The Pre-adoptive Home Screening process, also known as home study, is the assessment of the potential adoptive parent’s home for purposes of making sure the adoptive parent is in the right mindset and has the right motive to be able to adopt a child. An evaluator appointed or approved by the court is likely to come visit the prospective adoptive parent’s home to evaluate his or her eligibility to become an adoptive parent. The issues analyzed during this evaluation can include matters relating to the adoptive parent(s) such as:
- Motivation for adoption
- Marital and family relationships
- Feelings about their own childhood and parents, and history abuse or neglect
- Feelings about the child’s biological family relationships and open adoptions
- Thoughts on child discipline
- Sensitivity towards birth families
- Sensitivity towards children from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic status
- Ability to work with children from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic status
The adoption hearing is usually the last step of the adoption process. At that point, most adoptive prospective parents have gone through placement and evaluation, either through an adoption agency, the state system, or another court-approved action, and lived with the child for at least 6 months. The final hearing is necessary in order for the state to recognize the adoption and be able to issue the child a new birth certificate and social security card.
Every person that is being affected by the adoption suit must be advised of the hearing process.If the biological parents already relinquished their birth rights as parents, then their presence as parents is no longer required. However, the following must be in attendance:
- Prospective adoptive parent(s)
- Child to be adopted if 12 years old or older
- Adoption Agency (if, applicable)
- Adoption Attorney (if, applicable)
Domestic vs. International Adoption
Adopting a child domestically inside the U.S. usually means navigating through the foster care system in order to adopt. Currently, the foster care system has thousands of children who are eligible and waiting to be adopted. However, domestic adoptions can also take place privately, either through an agency or one-on-one, where a mother has decided to give up their child at-birth or newborn for adoption, and a family has agreed to adopt that child. A prospective adoptive parent may also be adopting through family or relatives. Adopting domestically can be easier than adopting internationally, because the requirements are clearer and may not deal with any immigration issues.
In order to adopt internationally, a prospective adoptive parent must not only meet U.S. adoption regulations but also the adoption regulations set by the country of origin of the child being adopted. Fortunately, The Hague Adoption Convention, an international treaty for adoption between countries, can make it an easier process when choosing to adopt children from counties who are members of the treaty. Eligibility requirements that apply during international adoptions include:
— At least one of the potential adoptive parents inside a marriage looking to adopt must be a U.S. citizen.
— The current age restriction for a single parent wanting to do an international adoption is at least 25 years old, whereas there is no age restriction for married couples.
Tex. Fam. Code §162.023(a) explains the regulations set forth when adopting a child internationally while in Texas, stating, “Except as otherwise provided by law, an adoption order rendered to a resident of this state that is made by a foreign country shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of this state and enforced as if the order were rendered by a court in this state unless the adoption law or process of the foreign country violates the fundamental principles of human rights or the laws or public policy of this state.”
Texas DFPS | Adoption – The Texas Department of Families and Protective Services provides an overview of the steps necessary to adopt in Texas. All of prospective adoptive parents must meet compliance with The Texas Department of Families and Protective Services. The page offers anything from resources about adoption information and forms to getting started with the adoption process in the state.
Open Adoption & Family Services – Open adoption is a specific type of adoption, in which adoptive parents and biological parents of the adoptive child keep an open point of contact. Visit the page to learn more about the benefits of an open adoption to find out if this is the right option for you. If you are considering putting your child up for adoption, this can also be beneficial.
USCIS | Adoption and Immigration – If a prospective adoptive parent is certain on the international adoption option and have questions about the immigration process involving adopted children, they can visit the USCIS page for more information. Intercountry adoption is usually permitted through the Hague Process or The Orphan Process.
Adoption Attorney in Cameron County, Texas
In order to have your adoption approved by the court, you must first have a court hearing. In order to avoid any conflict, it is best you have an attorney you can trust by your side. If you already have a relationship with the child you are looking to adopt, or are ahead in the selection process of adoption, you may just need to go through an adoption attorney to conclude the adoption and bring your child home with you.
At The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. , our attorneys have the experience necessary to represent you in court. We will do everything in our power so your adoption is a success. Contact our Brownsville office at 956-504-2211 to schedule a consultation or fill out an initial contact form at the bottom of the page.
Our family law attorneys work with clients in the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy.