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Adoption: A Comprehensive Guide to Building Your Family

Adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family. According to data from the Texas Alliance Of Child And Family Services (TXCFS), approximately 6,000 adoptions are finalized each year in our state. As rewarding as the adoption process can be, it is also highly complex. At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we help people navigate all types of adoption. Here, our Houston adoption attorney provides a comprehensive guide to building your family through adoption in Texas.

An Overview of the Options for Adoption in Texas

There are a number of different forms of adoption in Texas. Here are some of the different ways that you can build your family through adoption:

  • Stepparent Adoption: Stepparent adoption is the legal process by which a stepparent becomes the legal parent of their spouse's child.
  • Agency Adoption: An agency adoption involves the placement of a child for adoption through a licensed organization that facilitates matches.
  • Private Adoption: Also referred to as an independent adoption, private adoption is a process that involves the direct arrangement—finalized through a contract—between the birth parents and adoptive parents. A lawyer is key in these cases.
  • International Adoption: International adoption is the process of adopting a child from another country. Notably, these adoptions involve complex laws and procedures from both countries.
  • Foster Care Adoption: Texas has a foster care system. A foster care adoption involves adopting a child who is under the custody of the state's child welfare system.
  • Relative Adoption: A relative adoption is a broad term used to describe adoptions by a non-parent family member, such as a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or adult sibling.
  • Adult Adoption: Texas allows for adult adoption. It is a legal process that is most often used to formalize an existing parent-child relationship and/or for inheritance purposes.
Understanding Eligibility for Adopting a Child in Texas

Are you eligible to adopt a child in Texas? You will need to meet the basic eligibility requirements in order to move forward with the process. In Texas, a person is eligible to file a petition to adopt a child if they are at least 21 years of age and they are able to pass a background check. As part of the process, an applicant will typically need to complete an application, provide reliable references, and undergo a home study.

Note: You do not have to be married to adopt a child. Texas allows qualified single individuals and married couples to adopt.

What Should I Expect in an Adoption Proceeding

Getting prepared for the adoption process in Texas can be confusing. It is an inherently complicated process and there are a lot of things that need to be done before a petition can be finalized by a court. For prospective adoptive parents in Texas, it can be helpful to know what to expect. Here are some of the most notable things you can expect from the adoption process:

  • Determine the Method of Adoption: The first step in your adoption journey is to decide on the method of adoption. As noted previously, Texas offers several paths for adoption. Each option has its unique set of requirements, processes, and legal implications. Before you can move forward, you need to know exactly what type of adoption you will pursue.
  • Get Organized, Prepare the Application: Once you have chosen your adoption path, the next step is to get organized and prepare your application. Along with other things, this typically involves gathering financial statements, marriage certificates (if applicable), and getting personal identification. The application process also requires submitting background checks, providing references, demonstrating your financial stability, and your readiness to provide a loving home to a child.
  • Complete the Home Study Process: A critical component of the adoption process in Texas is the home study. A home study can best be understood as a comprehensive evaluation that is designed to assess the suitability of an adoptive parent. It includes interviews, home visits, and assessments of your living environment, lifestyle, health, and financial stability. The fundamental purpose of the home study is to ensure that the child will be placed in a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment.

Note: In some stepparent adoption cases, Texas courts can waive certain legal requirements to help the adoption be finalized more smoothly and efficiently. If the stepparent adoption is uncontested and the stepparent is married to the legal parent of the child, a waiver may be available.

Know the Standard for Adoption in Texas

Will a court approve an adoption? The answer depends on the specific circumstances of the case. That being said, assuming all of the pre-adoption requirements are satisfied, a Texas court will use the “best interests of the child” legal standard. If the court determines that approving the adoption is best for the child’s health, safety, future, and overall well-being, it will approve the petition and finalize the adoption.

How an Attorney Can Help With the Adoption Process

You and your family do not have to take on the adoption process alone. A top-tier Houston family lawyer who has experience with adoption cases can help you take action to protect your rights and put yourself in the best possible position to get your adoption approved. Throughout the adoption proceeding in Texas, patience and persistence are essential. The reality is that the process can be lengthy and that it may involve some unexpected challenges. However, the ultimate reward is providing a loving, stable home for a child in need. With the right preparation and mindset, an experienced Houston family lawyer can help you navigate the process successfully.

Contact Our Houston Adoption Attorney for a Confidential Consultation

At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, our Houston adoption lawyer is an experienced, reliable advocate for parents. If you have any questions about adoption, we are here to provide support. Give us a call at (888) 378-1784, or connect with us online for your complete case review. From our Houston office, we provide adoption support to help you grow your family throughout Southeast Texas, including in Harris County, Brazoria, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.

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Selecting an attorney can be one of the most difficult decisions a person has to make. In what seems like an overwhelming sea of attorneys who do you choose? Are they qualified, compassionate, and are they willing to fight for you without compromising their integrity? When faced with this decision in 2016 I received this and more when I retained Rahlita Thornton as my attorney. Since 2016 she has represented me on several court cases and I've never been disappointed. She is well versed and very knowledgeable on many aspects of the law. Attorney Thornton and her staff work diligently to ensure no stone is left unturned and justice is served. When I was crippled with fear, bullied, and felt like giving up she was my voice. She is highly recommend and I'm truly blessed to have her in my life. TTW
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