Lewisville, Texas Adoption Law Services
Adopting a child is one of the most rewarding choices an individual or couple can make. Not only will the life of that child be changed but the parents themselves will receive incredible fulfillment as they help that child learn and grow.
The team at Alison Grant Attorney at Law is dedicated to helping families through this process and supporting them every step of the way. We know some of the laws surrounding adoption can be confusing and there may be some anxiety as to the safety of the child involved. Our team works hard to establish set guidelines for every adoption, whether they are opened or closed. We also help create safeguards to protect the children involved and respond to biological or surrogate parents who may be petitioning for the rights of that child. Here is more information on our adoption services:
What Types of Adoptions Are Available in Texas?
There are several different types of adoptions in the state of Texas.
In some cases, family members such as a grandchild or nephew/niece may be put in a situation where their biological parents are unable to provide for them. Whether this is because of an unfortunate incident that robbed the child of their parents or circumstances of substance abuse, keeping children in the family is extremely important when possible. While it may seem simple that a parent can just give their child to a family member for care for an extended period, that relative will not have the same full parental rights that are needed to ensure that the child is getting the best care possible. A legally binding relative adoption is needed to ensure that the new caretakers can make financial, medical, and educational related decisions for the child.
Stepparent adoptions occur when a new spouse petitions the court to become the legal parent of a child or children by marriage. This is one of the most common types of adoption in the United States. If both primary parents are still living and have full parental rights, the rights of one parent must be terminated before the stepparent adoption process can be initiated.
Infant adoptions are different from public adoptions and adoptions of a baby. Infant adoptions are typically private adoptions that come from an agreement between the birth parents who are voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights and the adoptive parent/parents. It is important to have a compassionate adoption attorney on your side to act as an advocate for the rights of the adoptive family and ensure that the child’s best interests are protected.
Foster Child Adoptions
Adopting a child out of foster care is considered a public adoption. You need an adoption attorney to help you navigate the Department of Family and Protective Services adoption requirements. An adoption attorney will represent the foster parent’s position at the case conferences, appeals, hearings, and court appearances.
To provide children the best chance of finding a stable and caring home, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands are part of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children Agreement (ICPC). This agreement protects the rights of adopted children regardless of what state they were born or placed in. The ICPC establishes uniform processes across state lines to ensure ease of adoption. However, you will still need a competent adoption attorney to help you meet the regulatory requirements of the State you live in, as they still apply on top of the requirements set by the ICPC.
When Can a Child Be Adopted?
A child can be adopted after they have lived with the petitioner (potential adoptive parents) for at least six months. This requirement can be waived if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted sooner.
What Parties Need to Agree to the Adoption?
Depending on the facts of the individual case, which parties need to agree on the adoption will change. Here are some of the most common scenarios:
- If a married person asks to adopt a child, that person’s spouse must also consent and join the petition for adoption.
- If a child is at least 12 years of age, the child must consent to the adoption unless the court waives this requirement.
- If the child has a managing conservator, written consent is required for the adoption. This is true unless the managing conservator is also the one bringing the adoption suit to the court or the court decides to waive this requirement because consent was refused or revoked without a good cause.
Does Adoption Require the Termination of Parental Rights?
Children may only have one set of legal parents. Because of this, adoption requires that the parental rights of the biological parent(s) be terminated to make room for the exclusive rights of the new, adoptive parent(s). In these cases, the biological parent may choose to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights or it may be involuntarily terminated by order of the court.
What Is Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights?
Under Texas Family Code 161.103, a parent can bring a suit to terminate their parental rights to a child/children. In these cases, the court will be required to rule that voluntary termination is in the best interest of the child.
The court can also voluntarily terminate a parent’s rights if they have signed an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment or an alleged father signed an affidavit waiving interest. Even if these documents are signed and filed correctly, the court still has to order the termination of parental rights. The document alone is not enough.
What Is Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights?
In some cases, the child’s legal parents may not wish to give up their rights to the child. Individuals looking to adopt the child can pursue involuntary termination of the legal parents’ rights. Involuntary termination has to meet the legal requirements and be in the child’s best interest. In this case, there needs to be clear and convincing evidence that the biological parents or legal parents are unable to provide the care that the child needs or is endangering their child. A parent’s rights can be involuntarily terminated if the following is true:
- The biological or legal parent(s) has abandoned or does not support the child.
- The parent has endangered or is a danger to the child.
- The parent has engaged in criminal conduct.
- The parent is unfit to care for them.
What Factors Are Considered When Determining a Child’s Best Interest?
Texas law sets a legal standard that judges use when deciding the best interest of a child. These factors include but are not limited to the following:
- The child’s emotional needs
- The child’s physical needs
- The parental abilities of the potential caregivers
- Future plans for the child
- Home stability
- Parenting acts or omissions that suggest the parent-child relationship is unhealthy
- Excuses for any acts or omissions of the parent
- The child’s desires
What Should I Expect in Adoption Proceedings?
All adoption cases will be studied and have full reports done on both the side of the original biological parents and the adoptive parents. These reports and studies help give a clear picture to the court that the transfer of parental rights to the adoptive parents is in the best interest of the child. These reports must be given to the adoptive parents to ensure that they have the information they need to properly care for the needs of their adopted child/children.
The studies and reports will include the following:
- Interviews with the adoptive parents and the child
- Evaluations of the home environments where the child might live
- Observations of the child in different home environments
- Assessments of the child’s relationship with the involved adults
- Considerations of criminal history reports for anyone living in the home that is being studied
Additional information that the adoptive parents will receive will include health, social, educational, and genetic history information about the child.
How Does the Court Reach a Decision?
Generally, the court’s only concern when making the decision is if the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The judge will make this decision after hearing the testimony of involved parties, examining the reports and studies, and then applying the law to the best situation for that child.
Do You Need an Adoption Attorney to Help With Your Case?
Alison Grant, Attorney at Law is dedicated to serving the individuals of Lewisville, Texas and the surrounding areas with all of their family law needs. From adoption to child custody cases, our caring team works hard to ensure that your voice is being heard and your concerns are answered. Contact us today for more information on our adoption law services or to schedule a consultation to go over the facts of your case.