Adopting a child or multiple children can be a wonderful experience for your family. However, adopting a child can quickly become an emotional rollercoaster as you try to navigate the complex waters of the adoption process in our state. Having a family law and adoption attorney in your corner who understands Texas adoption laws and procedures is vital if you plan to adopt a child. Let the Dallas adoption attorneys at the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C. be there for you, just as you want to be there for your new children.
Adoption is the legal act of one or more adults, the adoptive parents, formally becoming the parents of a child. Through this process, the adults take on all of the legal rights and obligations of the birth parents, whose legal rights are, in turn, terminated (if they were not already). The adopted child becomes the legal heir and child of the new parents.
Traditionally, adoption has been under state jurisdiction, but Congress has taken on some influence over state authority in the adoption process. They have done so by offering additional money to states so long as they abide by congressional mandates. This does create some complexities that make it essential to seek legal advice from a Dallas adoption lawyer.
The legal process of adoption in Texas begins with meeting the basic requirements, preparation and training, and a home visit by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The specifics of each step are as follows.
The parents seeking to adopt must be at least 21 years of age, financially stable and responsible, and pass a criminal background check. During an informational meeting with the adoption agency or representative of DFPS, you will be given a chance to ask any questions and explore the requirements.
After you are sure you meet the requirements, you will meet with a DFPS staff member who will assess your qualifications to adopt. You will also have another chance to consider whether adoption is the right step for you.
Before you can adopt, Texas offers a Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) training program of 35 hours. This program provides education about the basics of child care and what each adoptive parent might need to know. Any prospective parents must also complete three external additional training and certification programs designed to provide further education about how to meet the needs of an adoptive child.
Finally, a home study visit from DFPS allows the agency to review your lifestyle, personal history, childcare experience, and other factors to determine your appropriateness as a prospective parent. Every family member in your household, including your existing children, will be interviewed during this time. The goal is to get a complete picture of the family unit, assess existing parent-child relationships, and ensure the home will be a nurturing and responsible place for the adopted child.
Yes, a stepparent can adopt a child in Texas. Stepparent adoption, however, requires the termination of parental rights of one of the biological parents first, under Texas law. For example, if a child’s stepfather wishes to adopt the child, the birth father’s parental rights must first be terminated.
There are many types of adoption in Texas, and each carries its own requirements. The various means by which a child may be adopted in this state are as follows.
An open adoption in Texas allows the birth mother to have a say in the child’s adoptive parents. In some jurisdictions, parents in an open adoption may maintain their contact and visitation rights.
On the other hand, closed adoptions see the birth mother relinquishing all of her parental rights and the state conducting the selection process. In closed adoptions, the birth parents rarely have any contact or visitation rights and may not even know who the adoptive parents are.
Private adoptions are direct adoptions, usually through families known to the adoptive parents. These adoptions are a type of open adoption for the most part. Still, they have unique qualities. It is a good idea to have an experienced adoption attorney to help oversee that everything goes as smoothly as possible in these situations, mainly to avoid future complications.
Infant adoptions are separate from public adoptions. They are almost always private adoptions pursued through agreements between birth parents relinquishing their rights and the new adoptive parents. An ethical family law attorney can play a crucial role in protecting everyone’s rights during this process.
Older children are often in the foster system and sometimes, but not always, adopted by their foster parents. Adopting foster children is a public adoption, and a family law firm can help prospective parents form a plan and navigate complexities and legal issues.
Stepparent adoptions occur when a new spouse petitions to become the legal parent of their children by marriage. This is the most common form of adoption across the United States. In this case, if both primary parents still have their parental rights intact, one parent’s rights must be terminated before a stepparent can adopt.
International adoptions are strictly regulated at every level, from state to federal and international regulations. It is vital to work with a Texas adoption law firm that is well-versed in these laws and can help you to navigate the complexities of international adoptions.
Domestic adoptions, or interstate adoptions, are regulated by the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), which secures the stability of the process and protects the rights of adopted children. The ICPC ensures that procedures for adoption are identical across state lines. Each state, however, still has its own regulations and requirements. This is why having an experienced family law attorney is so essential.
To recap, the basic requirements for adoption in Texas include the following:
The Texas adoption process can get very complex very quickly, and for the unprepared and new parents, it can seem confusing and frustrating. It is designed to protect the child’s rights, but when you want to start your new family, having someone in your corner who can guide you through the process can make a significant difference.
It can be easy to make a mistake during this process. One slip-up during an interview or forgetting a signature in the right place on a form may hurt your chances. Having a family lawyer who understands the importance of an honest and personal attorney-client relationship and brings years of experience to the table in these issues is vital.
If you are ready to grow your family, the North Texas adoption attorneys at the Law Office of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C. are ready to help you. We are not a large corporate firm full of disclaimers and fine print. Our firm is small and agile, and we are here to help you become a new parent or add another child to your growing family. We care deeply for every client that comes through our doors, providing personalized legal advice and dedicated attention. Truly, our greatest joy is helping you add to your family. Get in touch with us today at 214-989-7375 or fill out our contact form to speak with a member of our legal team about your case.