Congratulations! You’ve arrived at the decision to try for adoption in Texas. Families come to this decision for a variety of reasons, but no matter how you got here, Carrie Marquis of Marquis Family Law wants to make sure you have all the information you need to successfully move forward with this new chapter in your life.
In the state of Texas, adoptive parents may be single or married, and must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be financially stable
- Complete an adoption application
- Share information about their background and lifestyle
- Be able to provide references
- Provide proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)
- Complete a home study (more on this later)
- Submit to a criminal background check and child abuse checks on every adult living in the household
If you meet all of the above requirements, you’re ready to begin! The first step in the adoption process is deciding what type of adoption you’d like to pursue.
There are several unique options, so you should be able to find one that’s right for you and your family. You should consider:
- Whether you’d like to adopt an older child or an infant,
- Whether you want to adopt internationally or domestically, and
- Whether you want to have communication with the child’s birth parents or not.
There are many different types of adoption agencies out there, each with their own specializations. Answering the above questions can help you choose what kind of agency will be best for you.
Other factors to consider when choosing an adoption agency include:
- Average cost
- Hidden fees
- Financial protection
- Wait times
- Disruption rates
- Amount of education, support, and guidance for adopters
There are many adoption agencies and adoption attorneys in Texas, but they don’t all have the same level of success. This is why it is so important to do your research before choosing an adoption professional to help you through the process.
Regardless of what type of adoption and Texas adoption attorney you’ve chosen, you’ll still need to complete an adoption home study. This is an incredibly important step meant to look out for the welfare of the child.
A home study involves a caseworker, assigned either through the state or through your adoption agency, coming to visit your home. During this visit, they’ll talk to you about your family’s interests and lifestyle, your personal history, childcare experience, and how you will meet a child’s needs. The home study will also include an interview with any other adult living in your home. Your caseworker will also gather your financial and medical information and start the process of filing for your state and federal criminal background checks.
Regardless of where you live, you’ll still have to have your background checks done in Texas. This ensures that every couple adopting from Texas meets the same requirements, and also helps to eliminate child trafficking across state lines.
Once you’ve completed all your adoption requirements, the waiting game begins. If you’re adopting an infant, your profile will be presented to potential birth mothers so they can choose the family that will be best for their baby.
Patience can be a struggle, especially during this waiting period, but it is called a virtue for a reason. Adoptive parents who are able to keep their minds occupied during their wait typically find the process to be much smoother.
Once a birth mother has chosen you to adopt her child, you’ll get a call from your adoption professional. Depending on whether your adoption will be open, closed, or somewhere in between, you may then start communicating with the birth mother. This way, she can get to know more about you, your family, and the life she is choosing for her child.
Whether or not you’ll be in the hospital when your adoptive child is born is entirely up to the birth mother. In Texas, a birth mother must wait at least 48 hours before terminating her parental rights, but she cannot change her mind once she has signed the paperwork. The birth father’s parental rights must be terminated as well, a process that your adoption attorney will walk you through.
Once this is done, your child will be placed in your custody. However, they won’t be a legal member of your family quite yet, as it will take several months for the adoption to be finalized.
At this point, the end is in sight! There are only a few more steps you must take before the adoption in Texas is finalized:
- If you are adopting from outside of Texas, you must stay in the state until Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) paperwork has processed. This should take between one week to 10 business days.
- The state of Texas requires five post-placement visits to your home: these will probably be completed by the same professional who performed your home study and is meant to show that you and your child are adjusting well to each other.
- The last step in the process is a finalization hearing where a judge makes sure that all Texas adoption requirements have been met.
Once your adoption in Texas is completed, you’ll have as much contact with your child’s birth parents as specified in your agreed-upon adoption plan. This can be in the form of letters and pictures sent through your adoption agency.
Again, congratulations on your decision to adopt! Use this guide as a reference, and choose an experienced Texas adoption attorney like Carrie Marquis to make the process as easy and joyful as possible.