There are thousands of children currently in the foster system in the state of Texas. These children will eventually age out of the system without ever being adopted. What happens if you want to adopt the child you have been fostering for so long? An Austin, TX adoption lawyer can point you in the right direction.
Meeting the Fostering and Adoption Requirements
If you are already a foster parent in the state of Texas, chances are that you have already completed the prerequisite of requirements that are involved with the fostering and adoption process. These requirements include:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Background checks for anyone who resides in the household that are over the age of 14
- Provide a list of references that are both relatives and non-relatives
- Go to 20 hours of foster parenting classes every year
- Agree to implement a discipline policy that is nonphysical
- Submit to screening for TB
- Maintain a current CPR and First Aid certification
- Maintain a current Texas foster parent license
- Complete a Texas foster care adoption home study
- This study consists of background clearance from abuse and neglect charges, state and federal extensive background checks, review of documents that will determine if you are financially able to adopt, medical coverages, in-home interviews and inspections, and more at the determination of the social worker.
If you are thinking of becoming the adoptive parent of a foster child under your care, the first thing you should do is contact an adoption lawyer in Texas to help you with the proceedings.
Adoption Through the Foster Care System
Not every child is eligible to be adopted through the foster care system in the state of Texas. When entering into the foster program there is an option that is the “foster to adopt” program. This allows foster parents the option to adopt if the child becomes eligible for adoption.
The biological parent’s rights have to be terminated before the adoption process can begin. The biological parents can voluntarily terminate their rights, or the court can terminate them due to not being able to fulfill the requirements that were given for them to regain their custody.
If the parents lose their rights to the child, the next in line for adoption would be biological family members who may want to adopt them, after that it is the foster parents who have the option.
If a child in the foster system has not been adopted by the time, they reach the legal adult age of 18, they age out of the foster care system. If the foster parent wants to adopt them at that time, they can still adopt them, only at this point it would be an adult adoption.
Adoption Assistance Programs
The state of Texas offers an adoption assistance program to prospective adoptive parents who are adopting a child that they consider having special needs. Special needs in these cases are any circumstances that might cause an issue with the child getting adopted.
- The child is 6 years of age or older.
- The child in question is at least 2 years old and considered to be a part of a racial or ethnic group that statistically exits the foster system at a lower rate than other ethnic or racial groups.
- The child is being adopted with a sibling or joining the family of a sibling who has been previously adopted by the foster family in which they are living.
- The child has a handicap that has been verified by a physician.
- The child has been granted social security due to disability for a physical or mental handicap.
The adoption assistance program helps the adoptive foster parents with the essential needs of the child they are adopting. This includes things like medical care and expenses, repayment for expenses that are accrued during the adoption process, and an allowance every month to help take care of the needs of the child.
Adoption benefits begin on the first day of the month following the adoption finalization. These will continue until the child reaches the age of 18, but in some circumstances, these can continue until the child turns 21.
The allowance benefits can vary depending on the situation of the child. Typically, they can range from $400 to $545 per month, however, the actual amount is something that the adoptive parent and the state must negotiate on.
Hiring an Austin, TX Adoption Lawyer
If you are looking to adopt your foster child, and the parental rights have been terminated voluntarily by the parent or involuntarily by the court’s decision, you need to hire an adoption law firm in Austin, TX. If you plan on applying for assistance through the state with the adoption, it is imperative that you get an Austin, TX adoption lawyer who is experienced in negotiating the terms of the assistance with the state.