I. What is Adoption
Adoption is when a person legally takes on the rights and obligations of being a parent to a child that is not his or her biological child. This means that those rights that originally belonged to the biological parents will be legally transferred to another person who is unrelated to the child. The natural parents of the child cannot just take back their already adopted child. Adoption is permanent in nature.
Once the parental rights and authority of the natural parents are terminated through adoption, it is deemed as if the adoptive parents become the natural parents of the adopted child. Parental authority will be exercised solely and exclusively by the adoptive parents.
For married couples, if one spouse pursues an adoption, the rights and duties of raising the adopted child will also be transferred to the other spouse.
As for the rights of the adopted child, he or she has equal rights to that of the legitimate child of the adopters, should they have any.
Once you become a parent, you will have the responsibility to care for the child and make decisions for his or her best interests, just like any other biological parent. You will also have rights over the person of the child such as the custody of the child.
II. Adoption Law in Texas
Texas allows for adoption. There are a couple of legal formalities to go through. The reason for this is because an adoptive relationship is permanent in nature. There are certain laws and regulations which set apart the adoption process in Texas from that of other states. A few steps may slightly vary among agencies but the overall process still remains the same.
If you want to adopt, it is important to consult with a lawyer and be aware of every step of the process so you make no mistakes that could later become an issue.
III. Who May Adopt
Any adult who is responsible enough has the capability to adopt a child under laws of the state of Texas.
Marriage or being married is not a requirement for a person who seeks to adopt. A single and unmarried person can become an adoptive parent. However, if the adoptive parent is married, his or her spouse is required to be a party in the adoption petition. Legal proof of marriage or divorce should then be submitted to the state authorities.
The adoptive parent must show that he or she is financially stable or capable of taking care of the would-be adopted child. However, this does not necessarily mean that the adoptive parent must be independently wealthy or must own his or her own home but it is important that the adoptive parent has the financial capacity to sustain the needs of the child.
Maturity of the adoptive parent is also a significant factor in determining whether or not the applicant is capable of providing for a child’s short-term and long-term needs.
A stepparent may also adopt his or her stepchild so he or she can have the chance to act as a parent to his or her stepchild. It is quite natural for a stepparent to want to have the right to make decisions for the child.
Stepparent adoption is just like any normal adoption plus other certain requirements. These requirements include either the death or absence of the parent who is your spouse, or if your spouse, who is the parent of the child, is alive, you must jointly file for a petition for stepparent adoption.
As for same-sex couples who usually do not have a common child or a child of their own before they entered into marriage with each other, adoption is the common course of action.
Before, same-sex couples were required to adopt as two single people jointly adopting the same child and not as a couple. That means that one will go through the adoption first and complete the process and then after a period of six months, the other will go through the same adoption process.
Today, under the revised rules of procedure, same-sex couples can now adopt jointly provided that they are married with each other. The process is now simpler.
IV. Who May be Adopted
Anyone whose parents’ parental rights and authority have been terminated may be adopted in Texas. The adopted can be a baby, a child, or even an adult.
A baby may be adopted after 48 hours from birth provided that the mother voluntarily gave up her rights and gave consent to the adoption signed by two witnesses under oath as attested by a person vested with authority to take oaths.
Again, a mother can only give consent 48 hours from birth. Fathers, on the other hand, may give their consent to the adoption at any point before the child is born.
Those who are 12 years and above may be adopted but they must give their consent.
Even adults can be adopted. Their consent is also required. Whenever consent is necessary, it must be in written form.
In adult adoption unlike in child adoption, it is not required to notify the parents or family of the adult-adoptee. Only the consent of the adult-adoptee matter.
After all the requirements have been met, a court hearing shall be set. The court might waive court attendance if good cause can be shown.
V. Rights of an Adopted Child
Under the Texas Probate Code, when a child is adopted legally or formally, he or she is treated as if he or she is the natural-born child of the adoptive parents.
An adopted child also has the right to be supported by his or her adoptive parents. If the child was adopted from foster care, the adoptive parents may even qualify for Adoption Assistance programs if the adopted child qualifies depending on his or her history and other circumstances.
In terms of inheritance, the adopted child has the same inheritance rights as the natural child. This means that the inheritance rights of the adopted child extends not only to what he may inherit from the adoptive parents but he or she can also inherit from the adoptive parents’ decedents, such as the grandparents, and in some cases, uncles and aunts.
VI. How to Adopt in Texas
If one is interested in adoption, the first step is to go and find an information meeting sponsored and organized by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). These meetings and trainings happen throughout the year, free of charge, in the Dallas and Houston areas. A DFPS staff member can provide basic information on the adoption process. You can also ask a lawyer on what to do,
After accomplishing some of the basic requirements, you can arrange a meeting with a DFPS staff who will begin the assessment of the fitness for adoption of your family.
The adoptive parent must undergo trainings which last for several hours with an organization known as the Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE). PRIDE conducts training for both adoptive families and the prospective foster.
An adoption caseworker will be required to make a report on your home and your fitness as a parent. There are many options for you to proceed once you have been approved as an adoptive parent.
First, you can submit your interest regarding a child or sibling group after you review the Texas Foster Care and Adoption Information. You can do so by using the inquiry form that you can find on the profile page of each child.
You can also express your interest by sending an email to the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange with the name of the child that you want to adopt and their identification number.
You should also include in your email your personal information, such as your name, address and telephone number. To top that off, you need to provide the name of the agency you are working with plus your caseworker’s name and phone number. You will then receive the name of the child’s caseworker and his or her phone number.
VII. Adoption Costs
Adoption costs should be considered when adopting a child. You must be financially prepared. After all, becoming a parent means being ready to support the needs of the child while still keeping with the means of the family. There are a lot of preparations you’d have to go through if you are planning to adopt a child in Texas.
Adoption can take a long time. The process alone will cost you.
Adopting an older child will be least expensive. A private adoption agency or the DFPS itself can help you with the adoption. If you want to adopt an older child, you’re bound to spend a few hundred dollars if you were to do it through a private adoption agency. Most of your expenses will be from the home study and background checks.
If you hire an attorney to help you with the process, it can certainly make the adoption process smoother, but it can cost you a little bit more in terms of child adoption costs.
DFPS also provides assistance to those who are looking to adopt an older child. In such cases, DFPS can offer up to $1500 assistance for your child adoption costs. There is also monthly support available from the state once the adoption is complete. There are conditions associated with this DFPS support, however, such as the child being no older than 6 years old.
Adopting an infant domestically can be more expensive compared to adopting an older child. Such adoptions are usually done privately, with the assistance of an attorney and an agency who will find a mother who wants to make her child available for adoption.
The child adoption costs for this type of adoption can reach up to $30,000 if you find a mother privately. If you go through with an adoption through an agency, the child adoption costs can reach up to $40,000. The money you spend will still go to home studies, application fees, background checks.
If you are adopting a child from a mother who has not given birth yet, you will have to pay the medical bills until the child is born. You will also have to pay the employees of the agency who will facilitate the adoption, as well as the counselors who will help you and the biological mother before and after the adoption, is finalized.
An international infant adoption is also an option that you can pursue. In terms of child adoption costs, an international adoption can cost at least $50,000. Costs can vary, depending on the country of origin of your potential child. There could be delays with the international adoption process which can cause the child adoption costs to increase.