Adoption is something that changes lives for many. If you are committed to adopting, we here at the Covington Law Firm are committed to giving you the information that you need to do so confidently. Adoption is a beautiful thing, but the journey can be long and complicated. The better informed you are, the more ready you will be, regardless of how your adoption journey unfolds.
- What is adoption, legally?
Legally, adoption is accepting a child into your family and granting them all the same rights and privileges as your biological children have or would have. It involves making a commitment to care for the child, financially and otherwise, and indefinitely. Legally, the same care requirements apply to adoptive children as to all other children.
- How is having custody of a child different from adopting them?
Legal custody differs from adoption primarily in that it gives more rights and benefits to the custodian than to the child. A legal custodian or conservator is granted whatever parenting rights are outlined by the judge in the court-ordered agreement. However, the child is not legally treated as a child or even relative of the conservator, and does not receive any inheritance rights, which they would automatically have if they were adopted.
- Is parental consent sufficient for an adoption in Texas?
Parental consent is sufficient for adoption in Texas only under a limited circumstance. If one parent has terminated their parental rights and the other parent has consented to the adoption then their consent may be sufficient if the child is being adopted to their former stepparent, conservator, or someone who has had actual physical control of the child for at least six months prior to filing for adoption.
- How does stepparent adoption work in Texas?
If a parent remarries and their new spouse wishes to adopt their child from a previous marriage or relationship, the child’s other parent must relinquish their parental rights in order to make room for the new legal parent. If the other parent is unwilling to relinquish their parental rights, there may be other options available that will still give the step parent important privileges and rights, such as being able to see the child if they are hospitalized and make medical decisions for them.
- Is there a waiting period for adoption in Texas?
There is generally a six-month waiting period for an adoption in Texas, during which time the child must be in the possession of the petitioner. After the child has lived with the petitioner for a period of at least six months, they may petition the court to adopt the child. In some cases, this six month period may be waived if waiving it is determined to be in the best interest of the child.
- How can a parent voluntarily relinquish their parental rights?
While it is possible to sign a waiver of interest or an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment, it is really important to understand that only a court order can make a relinquishment of rights official. If you have a signed document you can provide it to the court as evidence, however, the court will still have to make the determination and order for it to be official; the document alone will not be sufficient. A parent can petition the court to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights as well.
- How can parental rights be terminated involuntarily?
Parental rights can be involuntarily terminated by the court if an individual demonstrates that they are unfit to be a parent. This can be evidenced by endangering or abandoning the child, failing to provide for the child, engaging in criminal activity, or is otherwise demonstrably unfit. In these cases, the judge will consider what is in the best interest of the child.
- What does the “best interest of the child” mean when it comes to terminating parental rights?
In considering whether to grant a request of voluntary or involuntary termination of rights, the judge will apply the best interest of the child standard. This legal standard attempts to weigh a number of factors to determine which outcome would best serve and support the child’s health and wellbeing. Some factors the judge may consider are the child’s emotional and physical needs, future plans for the child, home stability or instability, indications of an unhealthy parent-child relationship, home stability or instability, and sometimes, the child’s preference, if they are mature enough to have an informed opinion on the matter.
- Do adoptive parents need to be approved by the court?
Yes. All adoptive proceedings are overseen by the court. When the court assesses whether to approve adoptive parents, it looks at whether it is in the best interest of the child to approve the adoption. If the adoptive parents can offer the child a stable home, meet their mental and physical needs, and have future plans for their care, this weighs in favor of a finding that approving the adoption would be in the best interest of the child.
- What is involved in adoption proceedings in Texas?
Adoption proceedings can be fairly thorough and involved. Often, many tests and studies are utilized in the proceedings, such as home studies, observational testing, and personal interviews. Studies will be done on your home environment and likely on how your child behaves in your home environment as compared to other environments. Studies will also attempt to assess the health of the relationship between the child and all involved parents. If you have specific questions about the adoption process and how your proceedings may unfold, it is best to talk to an attorney.
Schedule an Adoption Consultation with the Covington Law Firm
If you are considering adoption in Texas, it is important to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row legally. The experienced and empathetic attorneys at Texas’ Covington Law Firm are ready to help your family grow. Contact the Covington Law Firm today and schedule a consultation.