Adoptions are usually one of the most inspiring parts of Family Law. You get to see a new family being created. But in order for an Adoption to occur, there must be parental rights terminated as to at least one, if not both of the parents.
Texas law provides for Termination under two separate and distinct options. The first is a voluntary relinquishment. This a legal document wherein the parent of the child signs off that he or she will no longer be the parent of the child. There are certain rules concerning when and how these documents have to executed and you should always have an attorney review the documents regardless of whether you are the parent signing or the prospective adoptive parents. There is nothing worse than finding out that your adoption cannot take place because of an error on paperwork regarding the termination of a parent’s rights.
The second option for Termination is called “involuntary” termination. The Texas Family Code lists a myriad of reasons that a parents rights can be terminated should the Court desire to do so. Involuntary terminations can be hard to attain without a pending adoption because the state of Texas does not want to leave a child motherless or fatherless unless the circumstances are grave. You should speak to an experienced attorney who can help with this process. At Wright Reneau & James, PLLC we have experience with both voluntary and involuntary procedures when it comes to Termination.
Step-Parent Adoptions are by far the most common type of adoption that I do in my practice. If a biological parent of the child wishes to relinquish his or her rights, a step-parent may then step into his or her shoes. The process for this type of adoption is also a little more lenient because one of the biological parents is remaining in the child’s life – so the requirements for pre-adoptive home studies and ad items can be waived by the Court.
However, as with all adoptions, there is still a lengthy process that has to be accomplished and all of the appropriate paperwork has to be on file before the Court can consider your request. If you are considering a Step-Parent Adoption then please contact us.
Private and Agency Adoptions
Texas law permits both private and agency adoptions. In an agency adoption the prospective adoptive parents will apply with the agency and wait for the agency to notify them that they have been selected to parent a particular child. Many times these children are part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services care. The agency will then act as an intermediary. In a private adoption, the prospective parents actually locate a birth mother who is willing to place her child for adoption. In Texas, an attorney can not locate a birth mother for adoptive parents.
Finding a Child for Adoption
This step may be easier than you think. Tell everyone you know that they are interested in adopting a child. You never know when you might run into someone who is interested in making an adoption plan. Another alternative is to use a facilitator. Facilitators are paid advertisers who will seek out prospective birth mothers across the country. In some states, other than Texas, you may advertise as well.
Payment for the Parent
Adoptive parents cannot pay for any living expenses on behalf of the biological parents. These restrictions apply even if the birth mother lives in a state that is more permissive in terms of payments of expenses. You can legally pay for medical and legal expenses relating to the adoption. Prospective parents can also pay a social worker or mental health professional to provide adoption counseling, and it is legal for you to pay a fee to a licensed child-placing agency.
An Adoption is a process. It starts with filing of the Petition with the Clerk of the Court. The next step is usually to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent or parents – depending on the situation and to name the proposed adoptive parents as the Managing Conservators of the child. Following this, the Court required the prospective parents to conduct a pre-adoptive home screening which is a report that is prepared by a licensed social worker with experience with adoption studies. The process will include interviews with the adoptive parents; obtaining verification of certain legal documents; obtaining letters of reference from friends and family; confirmation of your financial status; and running a criminal history and child abuse check.
The home screening will then be updated through post placement visits and a second report will be issued at the six month point that will recommend adoption. This report will focus and report on the child’s progress in your home. This post placement report will be submitted to the court at the time of the adoption hearing.
At the time of the adoption you must present the court with a post placement social study, a genetic history, and the results of a criminal history report. The Court can then sign an Order granting the Adoption and the birth certificate of the child can be amended to reflect the new parents. At Wright Reneau & James, PLLC, our team truly enjoys working on adoption cases. If you have questions, please feel free to ask.
Petitioning the Clerk | Voluntary or Involuntary Termination of Rights
Pre-Adoption Screenings | Post-Placement Reports