Adoption can be among the most joyful events that families can experience together. Every year, more than 100,000 children are legally adopted in this nation. In the state of Texas, if you want to adopt a child, you will probably encounter some unexpected legal challenges, but an experienced Dallas adoption attorney can explain the state’s adoption laws and guide you through the complicated legal adoption process. Adoptions are seldom simple and straightforward in our state, so it is imperative to have a good family law attorney advising prospective adoptive parents and protecting their legal rights from the beginning.
You probably already know that adoptions are permanent; prospective adoptive parents must thoroughly comprehend the magnitude and gravity of the commitment they are choosing to make. When someone adopts a child in this state, that person is assuming legal parenthood and acquires the right to make decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, and general well-being.
The law recognizes these kinds of adoptions:
- Step-parent adoptions and the adoptions of children related to the adoptive parent
- Domestic adoption, the adoption of a non-related child within the United States
- International adoption, the adoption of a non-related child from another nation
- Adult adoptions, under special circumstances
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS?
Those who want to adopt children in Texas need not be affluent, but they must be able to provide a safe home and a stable environment that enables and fosters a child’s psychological and physical health along with the child’s educational and social needs. All parents in the state of Texas are responsible under the law to support their children financially.
If you and your marriage partner adopt a child together, you both become parents with legal and financial parental obligations, and if you divorce or legally separate from your partner, your legal responsibilities to the child you’ve adopted do not end until that child becomes an adult.
It cannot be overstated; the first step in the adoption process is for the prospective adoptive parents to make genuinely certain that they are prepared and ready to commit to adoption and to parenthood. Although adoption clearly is one way to become a parent in this state, adoption is not for every family. It entails substantial emotional, physical, mental, and financial challenges. However, when adoption is the right choice for a particular family, the family members are almost always able to meet those challenges, and they consider their efforts well worth it.
Prospective adoptive parents in Texas who are not adopting a related child or a step-child may choose to work with a domestic adoption agency, pursue an international adoption, or adopt a child who is currently in the foster care system here in Texas. Several of the domestic adoption agencies are “full-service” agencies that provide counseling and guidance to both birth parents and to adoptive parents as well. These domestic adoption agencies may also conduct the “home studies” required of those seeking to adopt.
WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS?
Of course, children outside of the United States need homes and families too. However, international adoptions are somewhat more complicated than domestic adoptions, are usually costlier, and depend to a significant extent on the laws in the child’s nation of origin. Several international adoption agencies with offices in Texas can help.
Prospective parents who are adopting internationally must obtain a visa for the child from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Visa applications can be complicated and confusing, but after the child’s visa is approved, he or she automatically becomes a citizen upon entering the United States.
Prospective adoptive parents in Texas who want to adopt internationally will require the insights and advice of a Texas adoption attorney with international adoption experience. It is always possible that a birth parent, an attorney, or a judge in the child’s nation of origin can unexpectedly disrupt or delay the process. Arrange to consult with a knowledgeable adoption attorney before making any irrevocable commitment regarding an adoption from another nation.
In Texas, although most of the children who enter the foster care system will eventually reunite with related family members, about a quarter of the kids in the Texas foster care system will not, and they’ll qualify for adoption. Some of them are older children or one of several siblings. But whether you work through a domestic or international adoption agency or through the Texas foster care system, you’ll need the advice of a trustworthy, established Dallas adoption attorney.
Prospective adoptive parents must be prudent. Not all adoption agencies are professionally operated, but a good family lawyer can protect your interests and make certain that every aspect of the adoption procedure is conducted ethically and in compliance with Texas state law. Seeking to adopt in Texas without an attorney or without the help of a reliable and established adoption agency may make prospective parents vulnerable to adoption fraud. Some couples have lost thousands of dollars to savvy con artists with plausible references and pictures of smiling children purportedly waiting to be adopted.
WHAT ARE “OPEN” AND “CLOSED” ADOPTIONS?
Open adoptions are the adoptions that keep the lines of communication open among the biological parent or parents, the adoptive parent or parents, and the adopted child. Prospective adoptive parents must thoroughly understand what open adoptions entail and should settle only for an adoption agreement that they are entirely comfortable and pleased with. In a closed adoption, all records of the adoption are permanently and legally sealed, and a biological parent may not attempt to reach, harass, or to interfere in any manner with the child or with the adoptive parents.
As you might suspect, prospective adoptive parents will need some patience. Depending on the details of your own adoption, the legal adoption process in Texas can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. Those who are pursuing adoption through an adoption agency should presume that the process will normally take at least nine months, including parenting classes and a “home study” that assesses your capacity to provide a safe and stable environment for a child. International adoptions, in some cases, can take even longer.
Your attorney will schedule the final adoption hearing. At that time, a Texas judge issues a final decree that grants you full legal parental rights and completes the adoption process. Scores of children need adoption right here in Texas; thousands around the world need adoption too. When you are ready to begin the adoption process, an experienced Dallas adoption attorney will be ready to help.