Adoption can create a new family or enlarge an existing family, making it one of the most positive functions of the legal system. The process itself, however, can be intimidating, stressful, and complicated for most hopeful parents-to-be. To make that process a little more transparent, Dallas family court lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains what you need to know about adoption in Texas.
Types of Adoption
There are several different types of adoption. The type of adoption you are involved in can impact the steps involved in the legal process of adopting your child. Types of adoption include:
- Birth mother, or “private,” adoption – this type of adoption is generally facilitated by an adoption attorney and only involves the birth mother and prospective adoptive parent(s). There is no agency involved. The birth mother often choses the baby’s adoptive parent(s) herself. The adoptive parent(s) may be directly and intimately involved with the pregnancy, often paying the medical bills and living expenses of the birth mother.
- Agency adoption –this involves an adoption agency that matches birth mothers with prospective parents. With an agency adoption it can be an open adoption or closed adoption, depending on the wishes of the parties.
- State agency adoption – another option for adoption is to adopt a child, or sibling group, from those children who are wards of the State of Texas. These are children whose parents have had their parental rights terminated for one reason or another.
- International adoption – adopting a child from another county requires you to comply with all the adoption laws of both the country of origin and the United States.
- Family adoption – a family adoption could refer to a step-parent adoption or a grandparent, aunt, or other relative adopting a child within the existing family unit.
Who Can Adopt a Child in Texas?
In Texas, a prospective adoptive parent can be either single or married, and must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be financially stable
- Complete an application to adopt
- Share background and lifestyle information
- Provide references
- Provide proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)
- Have a completed home study
- Submit to a criminal background and child abuse checks on all adults living in the household
What Is Involved in the Home Study?
One of the most intimidating aspects of the adoption prospect for many hopeful parents is the home study requirement. Knowing what is involved in the home study can make that step a bit less stressful.
A home study is required to ensure that prospective parents are suitable parents and that the home is safe for the child. A home study can be completed through the state, through the adoption agency completing the adoption or through a separate home study agency. During the home study you will likely discuss your personal history, family interests and lifestyle, childcare experiences, the types of children you feel would best fit in your home (unless you are adopting a specific child), and your strengths and skills in meeting the needs of a child. Both you and any other adults in your home will be part of the home study.
What Is Involved in the Criminal Background Check?
If you have never needed a criminal background check, this too can be an intimidating aspect of the adoption process. Keep in mind, however, that it is intended to protect children from adoptive parents who have a hidden agenda and/or a history of abuse. The State of Texas requires every adult in the household to submit to a criminal background check performed in Texas. If you are not a Texas resident, you will still need to complete your background check through the State of Texas. This is a security measure put into place to ensure that every couple adopting a Texan child has completed the same requirements.
Contact a Dallas Family Court Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about the adoption process in Texas, contact experienced Dallas family court lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.