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Adoption in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Adoption is a wonderful way to add a new member to your family. According to data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), approximately 130,000 children are adopted nationwide each year. Through adoption, you can provide a loving home to a child and build a deep relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Adoption is also a complicated process. There are many potential pitfalls, and you must be fully prepared. At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we have the professional expertise to handle the full range of adoptions. Here, our Houston adoption lawyer answers 10 of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about adoption in Texas.

1. What is Adoption?

Adoption is the act of taking another person's child as your own. It is a formal legal process. You cannot informally adopt a child in Texas. When you adopt a child, you become more than just his or her guardian—you become the legal parent of the child.

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2. What are the Different Types of Adoption?

There are several different types of adoption in Texas. Our family law firm assists prospective adoptive parents with the full range of adoption cases. We are prepared to help you and your family with any of the following types of adoption:

  • Agency adoptions;
  • International adoptions;
  • Private adoptions through an attorney;
  • Stepparent adoptions;
  • Grandparent or other relative adoptions; and
  • Adult adoptions.

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3. How Long Does the Adoption Process Typically Take in Texas?

The duration of the adoption process can vary based on a wide range of different factors. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services estimates that the average adoption takes between six months and nine months. Though, in some ways, there is no true average. Unfortunately, the process can sometimes move slower. An experienced Texas adoption lawyer can help you and your family overcome obstacles in the adoption process.

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4. What are the Requirements to Get Started With the Adoption Process?

To adopt a child in Texas, you must be a legally competent adult. You must also be able to demonstrate that you have the financial and emotional capability to provide a safe, secure home for the child. A big part of the adoption process in Texas is evaluating prospective adoptive parents to ensure that they can satisfy these legal requirements.

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5. Does a Stepparent Need the Consent of Both of a Child's Parents to Adopt?

It depends on whether or not the child's other biological parent is still around and/or still has parental rights. If the child's other biological parent is deceased, certainly no consent can be given—thus it is not a factor. If the child's other biological parent has had his or her rights terminated, then consent is also not required. However, if the stepchild's other biological parent still has rights, then those rights must be terminated before an adoption can move forward. Consent is generally the best path forward in these cases.

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6. What is a Home Study in an Adoption?

Broadly defined, a home study is an evaluation of the home environment and lifestyle of the prospective adoptive parents. The core purpose of the home study is to ensure that the applicants (prospective adoptive parents) are capable of raising the child in a safe, secure, and healthy environment. Preparing for a home study can be stressful. An experienced Houston, TX adoption lawyer can take the pressure off and help you get ready.

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7. Can Unmarried Couples Adopt a Child Together in Texas?

Yes, an unmarried couple can adopt a child together in Texas. Though, they could face some heightened scrutiny in the evaluation process. Further, a single, unmarried individual can adopt a child in Texas. You do not have to be a member of a couple to submit an adoption petition. However, if you are married, Texas law requires you and your spouse to jointly petition for adoption. Married individuals cannot adopt a child without their spouse.

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8. Does a Child Have to Consent to an Adoption in Texas?

It depends on the child's age at the time of the adoption. Under Texas law (Texas Family Code Sec. 162.001), a child generally needs to provide his or her consent for adoption if he or she is 12 years of age or older. Younger children are generally not required to provide their consent for adoption. Though, in evaluating an adoption petition, a court could potentially solicit input from a child who is under the age of 12 through a professional.

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9. What is Adult Adoption and How Does it Work in Texas?

It is possible to legally adopt an adult in Texas. Adult adoption will establish a legal parent-child relationship between the parents. There must be a bonafide parent-child relationship for a court to approve an adult adoption. Further, both parties must consent to an adult adoption. Often, adult adoptions are pursued for emotional/personal reasons—such as legally formalizing a long-existing bond/relationship. That being said, there are also some practical considerations. For example, an adult adoption will affect inheritance rights.

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10. How Do I Find the Right Adoption Attorney?

You should look for a Texas adoption lawyer who has relevant experience. As a top-rated family law attorney with a passion for client service, Rahlita D. Thornton has the legal skills and professional expertise to help adoptive parents with all aspects of the legal process. We encourage you to reach out and schedule a strictly confidential initial consultation to get answers to any questions that you have about your rights, your options, the process, or our legal services.

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Get Help From an Adoption Lawyer in Houston, TX

At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, our Houston adoption lawyer is a diligent, future-focused advocate for families. If you have any questions about adoption, we can help. Call us at (713) 401-3998 or contact us online to arrange your initial case evaluation. From our Houston office, we provide adoption services in Harris County and throughout the surrounding area in Southeast Texas.

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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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Attention & communication is very good when working with this professional legal team. They are here to help you whenever questions arise and explain details as they go. Thank you for taking the time to accept my case & working with me. P.L.