Adoption is a wonderful way to create a family and make sure that a child in need has a loving home. A case for adopting a child asks the court to make legal parents out of people who are not already biological parents of that child. In doing so, the court has to decide what is in “the best interests of the child.” The specifics of the adoption process can be complicated and difficult to navigate. The Houston adoption lawyers at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC are well versed in the intricacies of the adoption process and can work hand in hand with you to achieve your desired outcome.
In Texas there are several options for adoption. These include: (1) stepparent adoption; (2) international adoption; (3) state adoption (interstate); (4) foster care adoption; (5) infant adoption; (6) relative adoption; and (7) same sex adoption. Regardless of the specifics of your adoption, you need a legal strategy tailored to your personal goals. Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC is pleased to have assisted many families with adoption and are well versed to accompany you on your path to creating your family.
To adopt a child in Texas, prospective parents must meet the following minimum requirements: (i) be at least 21 years of age; (ii) be in good physical health; (iii) pass a criminal background check; (iv) be able to financially provide for a child; and (v) if married, must have been married for at least two years. If a child is over 12 years of age, the child must consent to be adopted.
Our Houston adoption attorneys handle both contested and uncontested adoptions. Contested adoptions occur when the biological parent or other relative(s) objects, through the legal process, to the adoption being granted by the court. An uncontested adoption occurs when there is no opposition to the adoption, either by the biological parent or by anyone else. In the case of a contested adoption, the party contesting the adoption is legally entitled to claim parental or other rights due to them as a biological relative. In such a case, the adoption will still be granted if that party is unfit to parent the child. The outcome will turn on when the party objected as well as the particular facts of the case. Contested adoptions can take a very long time to resolve and result in significant legal fees. At Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC, we try to facilitate an amicable resolution to this matter to avoid costly fees and the emotional turmoil of a contested divorce.
Most uncontested adoptions occur when a stepparent adopts a child or when two adults adopt a child after each living parent of that child has had their rights terminated by the court. In an uncontested adoption, one or both parents agree to relinquish their rights as a parent. In order to voluntarily terminate his/her rights, the parent must sign an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights. The affidavit must contain: (i) very specific information about the child; (ii) an acknowledgment that the parent relinquishing his/her rights has been adequately informed of his or her parental rights or duties; and (iii) a statement that designates someone as the managing conservator of the child. The affidavit cannot contain any provisions for post termination contact between the parent and the child. The signing of the affidavit does not immediately terminate the parent-child relationship. Instead, it provides a basis for the court to enter a judgment of determination. The court must also find that termination is in the best interests of the child.
In the case of a contested adoption, the biological parent or other blood relative refuses to relinquish their rights. In such a case, the individual(s) seeking to adopt the child must petition to have the parent’s rights involuntarily terminated. Involuntary termination requires that a high legal standard be satisfied. Generally, courts are required to find by clear and convincing evidence that termination is in the best interests of the child and is supported by one of the following legal reasons: (1) the parent abandoned or failed to support the child; (2) the parent endangered the child; (3) the parent engaged in criminal conduct; or (4) the parent is otherwise unfit.
In adoption cases, the court’s main concern is in promoting the “best interests of the child.” The court will make this decision after hearing the testimony of both parties, conducting observations of the child in different home environments, assessing the child’s relationship with the involved adults and interviewing all of the parties involved as well as outside parties with relevant insight into the situation. If you are involved in a contested adoption, it is exceedingly important to set forth your best case. The seasoned Houston attorneys at Thornton Esquire Law Group, PLLC can work with you to maximize your likelihood of success.