Texas Adoption Attorneys Offering Support as You Grow Your Family
Adopting a child is one of the happiest and most rewarding moments in a person’s life. There may be lots of steps between making the decision to adopt and giving a child a new home—we are here to support you all the way.
At Goranson Bain Ausley, our adoption attorneys are pleased to have assisted many Austin, Dallas, and Plano couples with private adoptions. There are several ways to adopt, and our attorneys can help explain the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Their expansive knowledge base can help you decide which path is right for your family. They can also assist in developing strategies for potential issues such as:
- Establishing legal guidelines for open/closed adoptions
- Creating safeguards to protect adoptees involved in relative adoptions
- Responding to biological parents/surrogates who petition for rights
The Important Decision to Adopt
The decision to adopt a child can be one of the most rewarding, joyous, and altruistic moments of a person’s life. It can be the start of a richer, happier future for both parent and child.
A primary concern of couples who choose to adopt is consent. In addition, many decisions must be made about the level of contact, if any, the birth parents will have with the child and the finalization of the adoption. Adoptions give rise to an array of complex legal issues such as:
- What happens if a biological parent or surrogate has second thoughts?
- What if the biological parents reach out several years later and would like to see their child?
- Can the biological parents petition for rights?
- What are the legal guidelines for an open/closed adoption?
- If adopting the child of a relative who cannot meet their parental obligations, what safeguards need to be in place?
- What does an adopting parent need to know about their rights and obligations before legally adopting a stepchild, grandchild or foster child?
These are valid questions when considering adoption. Do not let the process intimidate you. The adoption attorneys at Goranson Bain Ausley can walk you through all these issues step by step, providing the legal and emotional support you need to extend your family.
How the Adoption Process Works in Texas
There are procedural differences between private adoptions and adopting through the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS); however, the law governing adoptions in Texas requires the same basic steps. DFPS provides detailed Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent online. The following is a summary of these steps:
Information meeting: In addition to age requirements and the ability to pass a criminal background check, you must be willing to go through every step in the adoption process. This meeting informs you about requirements and steps and lets you ask preliminary questions.
Preparation meeting: Next, you meet with DFPS staff to further assess if adoption is right for you, while allowing the staff to assess your qualifications.
Training: Texas provides a 35-hour Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE) course providing instruction regarding basic childcare, along with specific considerations for each prospective adoptive parent. Prospective adoptive parents will also participate in three additional training and certification programs outside of the PRIDE program, each designed to further educate the adoptive parents regarding meeting the needs of their adoptive child.
Home visit: Expect a home visit from a DFPS caseworker to review your personal history, lifestyle, experience caring for children and many other factors designed to determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for adoption. Each member of your household, including other children, will be interviewed, so that a complete picture of the prospective family unit can be developed.
Each step you complete prior to beginning the adoption process prepares your family to bring a new child into your home and helps ensure a seamless integration with your family. These steps are basically the same for families who wish to open their homes to children in need of foster care.
Work with a Texas Adoption Attorney to Develop Your Plan
We will help you compare the advantages and disadvantages of private adoptions versus going through an agency. Then we will assist you in creating an adoption strategy that is right for you and your family as well as provide all the legal and emotional support you need to extend your family.
Contact us to set up your initial adoption consultation and find out more about the legal requirements involved. We are looking forward to helping you with this exciting journey!
Types of Adoptions
Adopting a relative like a grandchild, niece/nephew, or cousin is considered a relative adoption. While many families enter into kinship care relationships informally, a legally binding relative adoption requires the termination of parental rights of both parents before beginning a standard adoption process.
Stepparent adoptions, occurring when a new spouse petitions the court to become a legal parent of their child(ren) by marriage, is the most common type of adoption in the United States.
If both primary parents are still living with parental rights intact, the rights of one parent must be terminated before the process of a stepparent adoption can be initiated.
Separate from a foster, or public, adoption of a baby, infant adoptions are usually private adoptions formed through an agreement between birth parents who are voluntarily relinquishing their parental rights and the adoptive parent or parents.
Ethical and compassionate adoption attorneys play a key role in protecting the rights of the birth family, the adoptive family, and the child involved in private adoptions.
Foster Child Adoptions
Adopting a child out of foster care is considered a public adoption. An adoption attorney can help foster parents navigate Department of Family and Protective Services requirements. Adoption attorneys also represent foster parents’ positions at case conferences, appeals hearings, and court appearances.
International adoptions are governed by strict state, federal, and international regulations. It is best to choose a Texas adoption agency that is Hague-accredited and licensed to execute adoptions in the country you have selected.
Many agencies purport to handle all the paperwork related to an international adoption, but we recommend families pursuing adoption from outside of the United States also engage an adoption attorney to ensure all citizenship requirements are met.
Once you are home with your child, it is also beneficial to go through a readoption process. An international “readoption” is when a Texas court issues an order that gives your child a US-issued birth certificate and creates a clear record of your child’s US citizenship and your parent-child relationship.
Texas law now allows married LGBTQIA+ couples to follow the same adoption processes as heterosexual couples, regardless of the type of adoption. This includes surrogacy and the adoption of a partner’s biological child(ren).
If you and your partner are not married, it is likely you will have to adopt as two single people jointly adopting the same child(ren) with a six-month gap between the finalization of one parent’s adoption and the beginning of the second.
State (Interstate) Adoptions
To give children eligible for domestic adoption the best chance of finding a stable, caring home regardless of where they live, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands are part of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), an agreement that ensures the stability and protects the rights of adopted children regardless of which state they were born/placed in.
The ICPC establishes uniform processes for adoption across state lines, but each state still has its own unique regulatory requirements that require the attention of an experienced adoption attorney.
Work with Our Trusted Adoption Attorneys
We understand that the legal side of adoption can seem intimidating. At Goranson Bain Ausley, you will have an experienced adoption attorney by your side, guiding you through the process step by step. With offices across Texas, GoransonBain Ausley attorneys offer unequaled depth and breadth of resources and a commitment to helping you execute your adoption plan. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.