If you have decided to adopt a child, you will receive both good and bad news. On one hand, Texas adoption laws are a little more permissive than in other states. They do not impose restrictions on who may adopt. On the other hand, the adoption process is still long and may drive you crazy. It is best to rely on an experienced Abilene adoption attorney.
If you are not sure you need legal help, a brief overview of Texas adoption laws with a Texas adoption attorney should help you decide. It will also help you know what to expect and get ready. You will find all the information you need in the following lines. By the time you have finished reading about the adoption process in Texas, you will want to call an Abilene adoption attorney at Eddington Worley to guide you through the process.
Adoption Law with the Help of an Abilene Adoption Attorney
In Texas, adoptions are subject to Family Code Title 5 Chapter 162. As you may already know, children can only have one set of legal parents. Adoption is the process through which people who are not birth parents become legal parents.
For that, they will have to convince the court that they are the best parent for the respective child. Otherwise put, they need to show that having them as adoptive parents is in the child’s best interest. To help judges assess the best interests of the child, the law imposes some studies and reports.
Due to these and to the emotional turmoil they involve, adoptions often become overwhelming. To make them easier, adopting parents should consider working with an adoptions attorney. The latter will assess their particular situation and advise them accordingly.
Requirements for Parents Wanting to Adopt a Child in Texas
Generally, any adult can adopt a child. However, the child they are considering has to be adoptable. Their adoptability depends especially on their relationship with their parents. There are four scenarios possible:
Termination of the Biological Parents’ Rights
In Texas, it is possible to adopt children only after terminating their biological parents’ rights. If the termination has not yet occurred, the adoptive parent can request it by filing a lawsuit. They can do so when they file the adoption lawsuit. How the termination of the biological parents’ rights occurs will depend on several factors. It can occur voluntarily or involuntarily.
This means the biological parent wants to terminate their rights. They may even request to do so by filing a suit in this sense. If they do, the court will most likely rule in favor of the termination.
The court has the power to terminate the rights of biological parents voluntarily if the latter sign a waiver. It is an affidavit or a voluntary relinquishment. It is important that in order for the right termination to occur, the affidavit or waiver alone is not enough. A court order has to accompany it.
This occurs against the biological parents’ will. Usually, the court receives convincing evidence that the termination benefits the child. Common justifications for involuntary termination are:
- Parents abandoning or refusing to support the child
- Endangering the child
- Parents engaging in criminal activities
- Unfit parents
Considering the amount of evidence required, an adoption attorney should manage the termination suit.
Adoption by Stepparent
A stepparent may decide to adopt their stepchild without needing to terminate both parents’ rights. The law allows the biological parent married to the adopting stepparent to keep their parental rights. In order for the adoption to occur, the termination of the other parent’s rights is necessary.
Families willing to share responsibilities between adoptive and biological parents may be able to do so. For that to happen, they would have to opt for a SAPCR instead of the adoption. SAPCR stands for Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship.
It is a procedure that may grant child custody (conservatorship) to someone who is not a biological parent. A conservatorship gives a person rights similar to those of biological parents over the child in their care.
Adoption with Parental Consent
It is possible to adopt a child after two years of age if one parent consents to the adoption. The termination of the other parent’s rights is still necessary. The adoptive parent can be:
- A former stepparent of the child
- The child’s managing conservator (custodial)
- A person who has cared for, possessed and controlled the child for at least six months before the adoption
To avoid further complications, it is better to always handle such cases with the help of an Abilene adoption attorney.
Adoption without Parental Consent
In order for this scenario to work, the child has to be a minimum of two years of age. The parents’ consent is not necessary but other requirements apply. The rights of at least one parent should have been terminated. The person requesting the adoption should prove that:
- They were the child’s former stepparent
- They were the child’s managing conservator
- The child was cared for, held possession, and controlled by themselves for at least one year before the adoption
Obviously, these aspects are easier to prove for experienced Abilene adoption attorneys. The latter may be able to help their client with much more than evidence-gathering during the adoption.
How Long Does the Adoption Take and How Can an Abilene Adoption Attorney Expedite the Process?
Generally, the court requests that the child lives with the petitioner for six months before approving the adoption. However, an experienced Abilene adoption attorney may convince the court to rule sooner. The court will waive the requirement if the petitioner proves that it is in the child’s best interest.
The child’s best interest is actually a legal standard used in most if not all cases involving children. It refers to the court’s duty to decide what benefits the child by taking several factors into account. Common examples of factors the court considers are:
- The child’s needs from an emotional and physical point of view
- The potential caregivers’ parental abilities
- Future plans regarding the child
- The stability each option provides
- Any signs of an unhealthy child-parent relationship
- Justifications for the parent’s acts or omissions
- The child’s wish.
In order for the child to have a saying in their adoption, they have to be at least 12 years of age. Even if they are, the court may waive the requirement if they think it is in the child’s best interest. Other persons’ whose consent may matter are:
- The spouse of the person seeking adoption – they have to join the adoption petition
- The child’s custodian, unless they are the ones seeking the adoption.
On a case-to-case basis, the court may decide that further investigations or procedures are necessary. An experienced adoption attorney may convince the court to give up or expedite some procedures. Of course, they would have to prove it would benefit the child. However, experienced adoption attorneys know how to do that.
They can prepare their clients for the adoption process and let them know what to expect in their particular case. We will review some reasonable expectations for the usual adoption case.
What Abilene Adoption Attorneys Advise Their Clients to Expect
Most adoption cases involve providing a considerable number of reports and studies to the court. Their purpose is to show the court that approving the adoption is in the best interest of the child. They should convince the court to transfer parental rights to the adoptive parents.
Similarly, the adoptive parent will receive their share of reports. These provide the information they may need to properly care for the child. The mentioned studies and reports usually include:
- Interviews of the child and their potential adoptive parents
- Evaluations of the home and neighborhood where the child would live
- Assessments of the relationship between the child and the adults involved
- Observations of the child’s behavior in various environments
- Criminal history reports and considerations for everyone living in the homes under observation
- Reports regarding the child’s medical, school, social, and genetic history
If the adults seeking adoption are the child’s close relatives, this last series of reports may not be necessary. The court will use the available reports and studies to rule in the child’s best interest. Before making their decision, they may interview witnesses and review case precedents.
Since each child and, implicitly, each adoption case is unique, they should be handled as such. The best approach is to consult an adoption lawyer and develop a sound strategy based on the case’s details.
Get the Opinion of an Experienced Abilene Adoption Attorney Now!
Are you trying to adopt a child and looking for solutions to simplify and expedite the process? Look no further! At Eddington & Worley, we value your time and energy. We will do everything possible to secure a fast and streamline adoption process. We will not rest until we see you home and happy with your child.
To find out more about us, obtain answers, or receive a case evaluation, get in touch! Call our office and schedule a consultation. Our Abilene family lawyer will provide all the information and advice you need.