While the decision to adopt a child and provide a family for him or her is rewarding, the adoption process can prove to be especially complicated. Since the individuals states have jurisdiction over child custody and adoption matters, the state where a child is domiciled will determine the requirements for adoption, subject to some federal laws.
Any person who is considering adoption in Southeast Texas will want to make sure he or she retains legal counsel for assistance with filing the appropriate paperwork necessary to become a legal parent. It is important to make sure your adoption is handled properly from the very beginning so you can avoid possible complications later on.
Attorney for Adoption in Houston, TX
Are you considering adoption or trying to adopt a child in Southeast Texas? You will want to contact Sydow Law Firm as soon as possible.
Houston divorce lawyer Michael Sydow represents clients in communities all over Fort Bend County and Harris County.
Call (713) 622-9700 today to have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.
Overview of Adoption in Harris County
Texas Family Code § 162.001(a) establishes that an adult can petition to adopt a child who may be adopted, and Texas Family Code § 162.001(b) states that a child residing in Texas can be adopted if:
- the parent-child relationship as to each living parent of the child has been terminated, or a suit for termination is joined with the suit for adoption;
- the parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner, and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption;
- the child is at least 2 years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, the person seeking the adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of six months preceding the adoption or is the child ’s former stepparent, and the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption; or
- the child is at least 2 years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the person seeking the adoption is the child ’s former stepparent and has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of one year preceding the adoption.
When a person seeks to adopt a child in Texas, Texas Family Code § 107.153(a) requires the court to order an adoption evaluation to evaluate each party who requests termination of the parent-child relationship or an adoption in a suit for termination of the parent-child relationship in which a person other than a parent may be appointed managing conservator of a child, or an adoption.
An adoption evaluation is defined under Texas Family Code § 107.151(1) as “a pre-placement or post-placement evaluative process through which information and recommendations regarding adoption of a child may be made to the court, the parties, and the parties’ attorneys”)
Under Texas Family Code § 107.153(b), the adoption evaluation must include an evaluation of the circumstances and the condition of the home and social environment (commonly referred to as a “home study”) of any person requesting to adopt a child who is at issue in the suit.
Texas Family Code § 162.010(a)requires that the written consent of a managing conservator (the parent awarded primary custody) to the adoption must be filed. Under Texas Family Code § 162.010(c), a child who is 12 years of age or older must consent to the adoption in writing or in court.
Subchapter A to Chapter 161 of the Texas Family Code provides multiple grounds on which parental rights may be terminated, and adoption can proceed without parental consent. For example, the court may order termination of the parent-child relationship under Texas Family Code § 161.003 in a suit filed by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) if the court finds that:
- the parent has a mental or emotional illness or a mental deficiency that renders the parent unable to provide for the physical, emotional, and mental needs of the child;
- the illness or deficiency, in all reasonable probability, proved by clear and convincing evidence, will continue to render the parent unable to provide for the child’s needs until the 18th birthday of the child;
- the department has been the temporary or sole managing conservator of the child of the parent for at least six months preceding the date of the hearing on the termination held in accordance with Subsection (c);
- the department has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent; and
- the termination is in the best interest of the child.
Cases involving children from other states our countries can require compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
Sydow Law Firm has experience with a wide variety of adoption cases. Our firm understands that every case is unique and different circumstances can involve different requirements.
Some of the most common kinds of adoption cases we handle include, but are not limited to:
- Stepparent Adoption — When a birth parent remarries, the new spouse typically becomes the child’s stepparent;
- Relative Adoption — Certain family members may petition to adopt a grandchild, niece, or nephew;
- Assisted Reproduction — Gestational agreements in Texas allow prospective parents to enter into agreements with a gestational mother (and her spouse if she is married) if the intended parents can prove that they are medically incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term or giving birth to a child without unreasonable risk to either the mother’s physical or mental health or to the health of the unborn child;
- International Adoption — International adoption agencies allow people to adopt children of all ages from other countries;
- Child Protective Services Adoption — Children removed from their homes for abuse, neglect, and abandonment are often in foster care and are under the custody of the state, but may be eligible to be adopted; and
- Same-Sex Adoption — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning and queer (LGBTQ) couples can face many other legal challenges not encountered by other people during the adoption process.
Adoption Resources in Texas
Texas Family Code | Chapter 162. Adoption — View the full text of the chapter of the Texas Family Code dedicated entirely to state adoption laws. Learn more about the adoption of a child, the ICPC, and adoption services by DFPS. You can also find information about voluntary adoption registries, adoption of an adult, and embryo donation.
Texas DFPS | Adoption Options — Visit this section of the DFPS website to learn more about what to expect during the adoption process. Find licensed adoption agencies, learn how the Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL) division of DFPS regulates adoption agencies, and read suggestions for what to do before choosing a licensed adoption agency. You can also find financing information.
Find an Adoption Lawyer in Houston, TX
If you are hoping to adopt a child in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. Sydow Law Firm serves communities throughout the greater Houston area, including many nearby areas in Harris County and Fort Bend County.
Michael Sydow is an experienced divorce attorney in Houston and is a Fellow for both the Texas Bar Foundation and the Houston Bar Foundation. He can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (713) 622-9700 or submit an online contact form to receive a free, no-obligation consultation.