As the second-largest state in the United States, Texas has a multitude of adoption professionals within the state to help you through your adoption process. Due to its large size, Texas also has a wealth of children in foster care in need of forever homes. It is vital that adoption in Texas be a smooth and informed process. In addition to utilizing the many adoption professionals Texas has available, it is vital to understand the types of adoption, the process, birth parent expectations, and all other pertinent information about adoption in Texas.
Types of Adoption
There are two main types of adoption in Texas. The first type of adoption is adoption from foster care. This type of adoption is often little to no cost. When adopting from foster care, prospective adoptive parents will typically be able to view photolistings to attempt to match with a child. Foster parents in Texas may also choose to adopt a child or children that they are currently fostering once they become “legally free” to adopt. The foster care system in Texas is currently inundated with children due to the oil boom. As people flock to Texas for jobs, that unfortunately increases the number of children entering foster care. This makes adoption from foster care not only an option, but an extreme need in regards to adoption in Texas.
The second type of adoption in Texas is private or domestic adoption. This is the most common type of adoption used for infant adoption. In this case, prospective adoptive families would hire an adoption agency and/or attorney to help guide them through their adoption journey. Once all of the requirements of the agency and state are fulfilled by the adoptive parents, they will often wait to be matched with a child. In some cases, some prospective adoptive parents may have self-matched with a child, making the process much shorter in most cases. The cost of this type of adoption in Texas is in line with the national average, typically costing between $30,000-$50,000 depending on the type of adoption. If prospective parents have self-matched or there are other circumstances at play, this number may be significantly less.
Adoption in Texas can be pursued through either an adoption agency or adoption attorney. For those pursuing adoption from foster care in the state of Texas, this would be done through the Department of Family and Protective Services. Anyone over the age of 21 can pursue adoption in Texas. There are also no restrictions on gender, marital, or sexuality of adoptive parents. For both domestic and foster care adoption in Texas, all prospective adoptive parents would be subject to a home study. This home study would include federal fingerprint background checks for both the adoptive parents and anyone in their household over the age of 18. Each prospective parent will also need to have a physical done with a paper from their doctor, stating their physical ability to care for a child. Chronic illnesses are not always a disqualifier as long as they do not inhibit the ability to parent and keep the child safe.
The home study will need to be conducted before any prospective parent is eligible to adopt. The home study typically begins with the collection of personal paperwork such as identifying documents, financial statements, and a general biography of each parent. A social worker will interview each member of the family, including anyone living in the household. Prospective adoptive parents will go through any criminal or protective services history they may have if applicable. The social worker will also discuss readiness to adopt, financial stability, and education that will be required.
Adoption in Texas will require that children already in the home be observed and that all members of the household be present for at least one of the visits. There will also be a study of the home done to make sure it is suitable for habitation by a child. This study may include a fire safety check, firearm safety, evacuation capabilities, general childproofing, etc. Additionally, there is an expectation of general safety and cleanliness suitable for a child. Any pets will also have to be vaccinated and observed as well. All of these checks are not meant to be invasive, but they will vary with each social worker and are simply done to ensure the child will be in a safe environment.
Once a home study has been completed and approved, you become eligible to adopt. If you are adopting from foster care and have not yet matched with a child, at this point, you will begin to search for a child whom you can adopt based on any specifications you may have. If you are seeking domestic infant adoption in Texas, you will wait to be matched with a child through your agency, your attorney, or by self-matching. With self-matching, it is important to note that you can only advertise through your adoption agency. Once you have matched with a birth mother, your agency or attorney will lead you through what happens until birth, including birth parent expenses, revocation, post-placement requirements, and finalization.
Birth Parent Expectations
In cases of domestic infant adoption, adoptive parents may be expected to pay birth mother expenses. These expenses often include pregnancy-related expenses, counseling, other mental health services, and attorney representation for the birth mother. The adoption agency or attorney will typically handle the disbursement of these funds and make sure that the funds are being tracked to what is allowable by the state of Texas.
If a birth father is unnamed, unknown, or unmarried, he has 31 days after the child is born to register on the putative father registry for Texas. If the father is known, he must be notified of the adoption and be given a chance to respond to the adoption petition.
Both the birth mother and birth father may consent to the adoption 48 hours after the birth of the child. If this consent is provided, both birth parents have the right to revoke the consent to adoption any time before the adoption is finalized. This revocation would need to be submitted in writing and submitted to the courts.
There are some cases where consent to adoption cannot be obtained or an adoption has to occur involuntarily. According to the Texas adoption wiki page, consent of the parent is not required under these circumstances:
– The parent is unable to care for the child due to mental illness.
– The parent has voluntarily terminated parental rights.
– The parent has no right of consent after an abortion when the child survives.
– A person is convicted of a crime resulting in the birth of a child.
If you are adopting from foster care, there may be a different process for placement including transitional placement over time. In domestic infant adoption in Texas, after the birth parent(s) have given their consent for your adoption, the child will be placed in your custody. If you are adopting from out of state, expect to be in Texas while awaiting ICPC clearance. This wait can vary from days to weeks depending on your paperwork, adoptions occurring in the state at the time, and various other uncontrollable factors. If you are a Texas resident adopting in Texas, you will take your child home, barring they have no NICU needs.
After you are home with your child, your social worker will need to conduct a post-placement visit. Each family member will be interviewed again separately and as a group. The social worker will make sure that the child’s needs are being met, the environment is still conducive to child-rearing, and you do not have any additional needs, questions, or concerns. This post-placement report will typically be submitted, and visits only occur after the child has been in your home for at least five months.
After the post-placement report has been drafted and submitted to the courts, the path can be cleared for the adoption finalization. While adoption finalization can occur after the child has been placed with you for six months, finalization times may vary and may exceed a year. You can consult with your agency or attorney after the post-placement report has been filed to find out if a finalization date has been assigned to your family. The finalization can also be done out-of-state and is more of a formality, though this does mark the end of the revocation period, and you become the child’s legal parents.
Important to Note
In Texas, post-adoption contract agreements allow for open adoption to become a legal matter, allowing the birth parents a reasonable amount of updates and sometimes contact with their child. This agreement is decided on and negotiated by birth and adoptive parents before placement. Post-adoption contact agreements are legally enforceable through adoption in Texas, as long as they are agreed upon by all parties and filed with the finalization of an adoption. Those attempting to have these terms enforced would need proof of their concerns and attempt mediation before petitioning the court.