Texas is known for a lot of things—big personalities, big hair, and a big Texas State Fair. There might not be as much known about placing a child for adoption in Texas or adopting a child in Texas. We’re going to break down Texas adoption for the expectant mom and the hopeful adoptive family.
For the Expectant Mom
If you live in Texas and are considering placing your child for adoption, we want to equip you with the information you need and direct you to the right resources! You are not alone. There are so many other women in the same position. It’s normal to feel alone, nervous, worried, and confused. You are the most important person in your child’s life, and are completely capable to make the best decision for you and your child.
The Gladney Center for Adoption is an amazing resource for expectant mothers. They set the standard for adoption agencies that provide support and guidance. The Gladney Center for Adoption is located in Fort Worth. If you don’t live near Fort Worth, looking for an agency with similar strengths and services is a great idea. One of Gladney’s biggest strengths is their attention to the needs of expectant mothers. They partner expectant mothers with an options counselor to discuss all of the options available. When facing an unplanned pregnancy, mothers can choose to parent, place their child for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy. With the help of an options counselor, you can make the decision that is best for you and your baby. The process of meeting with an options counselor is as follows:
- You will talk with an Options Counselors about your immediate needs and how we can immediately meet those needs.
- You will be assigned a compassionate counselor who will work with you to help you determine the best possible scenario for your future and your child’s future.
- You will have the opportunity to learn all you can about adoption. You can speak with birth mothers who have made adoption plans for their children.
- Your counselor will provide profiles of families that have been screened carefully by Gladney that match what you are looking for in a family for your child. Many of the families have created online profiles for you to view.
- Your counselor and other Gladney staff will assist with your making your adoption plan personalized just for you, and you will continue to receive counseling and post-adoption services.
If you decide to place your child for adoption, you have rights given to you as the biological parent. These are important to remember throughout the process.
- First, you will determine when to terminate your rights. You can voluntarily surrender your rights, or they can be forcefully terminated. If your rights are terminated, it is due to neglect, abuse, or other significant disruptions to your child. If you are making the decision to place your child for adoption, you have 48 to 72 hours to change your mind until you sign the relinquishment paperwork.
- You have the right to choose the family your child is placed with. Think carefully about the type of family you want your child to be raised in. Things to think about include a single parent home, a married couple, a heterosexual couple, or a LGBT couple. Religious beliefs, family support, whether or not your child will be in daycare, and family traditions are other things to consider. If you are working with an agency, you will have the ability to view multiple family profiles and talk to prospective adoptive families before making your decision.
- You get to make the decisions surrounding the birth of your child: who will be in the room, where you will deliver, and your experience in the hospital. Some birth mothers choose to have the adoptive parents/mother present in the delivery room, while others choose to not have the adoptive parents in the room or even to see them at the hospital at all.
- You get to determine how open you want your adoption to be. Some parents choose to have a closed adoption, where they have no contact with their child after the child is born. You can also choose to have a semi-open or open adoption. You can decide if you want weekly, monthly, or yearly updates. You can ask for regular visits or other contact. This is something you will discuss with the potential adoptive family, but you will ultimately decide how open your adoption will be.
- Finally, you get the final decision on whether to place your child for adoption. You know you and your child better than anyone. You know what you can handle, the kind of life you want for your child, and what decision is best. Trust yourself and your ability to choose your child’s future.
For the Hopeful Adoptive Parent
Texas adoption encompasses three basic categories: adoption through foster care, private adoption, and international adoption.
To be able to adopt in any way, you have to complete a home study. A home study is a written document that gives a detailed and complete overview of your family and everyone in your home. Adoption.org has a great article all about home studies. In the article, highlighted are the necessary documents you will need to collect to be prepared for your home study. These include:
- Birth certificates for you, you spouse, and any children in your home.
- Adoption decrees for any adopted children in your home.
- Marriage certificate.
- Death certificates of any former spouses.
- Divorce decrees for you and/or your spouse.
- Employment verification on the company’s letterhead.
- Verification of income (tax returns).
- Proof of life insurance.
- Proof of health insurance.
- Verification of any and all monetary assets (checking and savings accounts, 401k, stocks, mutual funds, etc.).
- Any debt information (houses, cars, and credit card balances).
- Mortgage or rent information.
- Physical exam results.
- Criminal background results.
- Public health inspection.
- Fire Safety inspection.
- Proof of pet vaccination.
- Photographs of your family.
- Written references.
A case worker will worker closely with you to guide you through the home study process. They will meet with each member of the family, ask questions about your life, family, past, relationships, and complete a full report of all of the information that they gather. They will ensure that your home study meets the requirements for the specific type of adoption you are pursuing.
Adoption Through Foster Care
Adoption through foster care in relation to Texas adoption is a wonderful option if you are wanting to provide a home for a child in need. It’s important to understand foster care and its purpose. Children are placed into foster care due to neglect, sexual abuse, and/or physical abuse. They are placed in a safe, temporary home while their parent or parents are given time and resources to improve and create a safe environment for their children. With the help of a licensed case worker and the approval of a judge, parents create a service plan that outlines what is required of them for their children to come home. The ultimate goal of foster care is for children to be reunified with their parents.
If you are hoping to adopt directly from foster care, you might be interested in a child or children from the Waiting Children list. These are children that have been through the foster system, whose parents’ rights have been terminated, and are waiting for their forever family. Generally, these children are older, are a part of a sibling group, and/or have disabilities or challenging behaviors. Parental rights have been terminated, though, and they are available for adoption. You will still need to be a licensed foster parent, as you will likely foster them in your home for at least six months before the adoption is finalized.
To become a licensed foster parent in Texas, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be single or married.
- Be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults.
- Complete an application.
- Share information regarding your background and lifestyle.
- Provide relative and non-relative references.
- Show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable).
- Agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members.
- Allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household.
- Attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children.
- Have adequate sleeping space.
- No more than six children in the home, including your own.
- Agree to a nonphysical discipline policy.
- Permit fire, health, and safety inspections of the home.
- Vaccinate all pets.
- Obtain and maintain CPR/First Aid Certification.
- Obtain TB testing, as required by the local Health Department for household members.
- Attend 20 hours or more of training each year.
Trainings to become a foster parent are very informative and useful. They will prepare you to care for children from hard places. The training program used with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is called PRIDE, which stands for Parent Resource Information Development Education. The DFPS website discusses the training program, saying, “Texas PRIDE is a 35-hour competency-based training program that is co-trained by an agency staff member and a foster or adoptive parent. PRIDE provides prospective foster families with base knowledge of information on caring for children in the child welfare system. PRIDE covers topics such as child attachment, loss and grief, discipline and behavior intervention, effects of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, working with the child welfare system, and the effects of fostering and adopting on the family.”
If you are hoping to adopt an infant, adopting domestically is probably your best choice. You can choose to work with an agency, or match independently. When you match independently, the expectant mother and hopeful adoptive family make a connection on their own or through mutual friends. A great resource for an independent match is Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles. After having a completed home study, you can post your profile for expectant families to see. They can read about you, view pictures, watch videos, and even reach out to you through the Parent Profile and start a conversation. When you match independently, the adoption costs are quite a bit less, but you are left to do a lot of the work on your own. Once matched, you will use an adoption attorney to finalize the adoption.
If you are working through an agency, you will receive a lot of support and resources. There are also many services provided for expectant mothers that ensure their mental and physical needs are met. Agencies provide long term therapy for birth mothers before and after placing their child for adoption. While the costs for using an agency are generally higher, they walk you through the whole adoption process, which is known to be very overwhelming!
International adoption is a unique and exciting adventure. When you adopt internationally, you are bringing a child from another country to the United States. There are a lot of requirements and a long process unique to international adoption. The most important piece to international adoption is to ensure that you are working with a Hague-compliant adoption agency. On the Gladney Center for Adoption website, you can learn more about what a Hague accreditation is. They say, “The Hague Convention protects children and their families against the risk of unregulated adoptions abroad and ensures that intercountry (district) adoptions are made in the best interests of the children. The Convention also protects against unethical, unlawful, and inhumane adoption practices.”
Children who are available for adoption internationally are generally living in an orphanage or foster home in their native country. They have already been born and are matched with a family in the United States. It’s important to consider cost, time, and travel requirements when looking into international adoption. Every country has different rules, which is why it’s important to work with a competent adoption agency.
While adoption can be very expensive, there are ways to finance your adoption that won’t leave you burdened with debt. Families who adopt generally do one or more of the following:
- Live frugally and pinch pennies. It’s surprising how much money can be saved when you stick to a budget and cut out things that aren’t necessary.
- Apply for grants. If you are working with an agency, you can apply for adoption grants that can help to take a large burden off of your total adoption balance. Different grants ask for different requirements, so it’s important to do your research.
- Host fundraisers. It might make you uncomfortable to directly ask for money. When people are included in a fundraising event, they feel like they are part of the cause, and get excited about helping your family grow.
- Use the government’s adoption tax credit. The government can pay back adoption expenses, which can help significantly.