While Texas law is fairly broad when it comes to who can adopt a child, the many issues related to adoption are often complex, and there are procedural requirements that must be met in order to finalize the adoption.
Here are some things you may not know about the rules for adoption in Texas.
1. Generally, if the child is age 12 or older, then the child must consent to the adoption.
While this is the general rule, there are exceptions. If the court determines that the adoption would be in the child's best interest, but the child does not consent in writing or in court, then the court may waive the consent requirement for the child.
The child's consent to adoption is not required for children younger than 12.
2. If the person petitioning for adoption is married, then both spouses are required to join the petition in order for the adoption to move forward.
This rule also applies to the child's biological parent who is currently married to the person petitioning for adoption. Once the child's parent joins the petition, no further consent from that parent is needed.
3. In general, the child must have lived with the petitioner for at least six months before the court will grant an adoption.
Here, too, there are exceptions. A person petitioning for adoption can request that the residence requirement be waived, but the court will have to be shown that the waiver is in the child's best interest.
4. Texas law specifically addresses adoption by military service members.
In short, the law says that social workers, the court and any person doing a pre-adoptive home screening may not consider a person's military service as a negative factor when that person is petitioning for adoption.
If you are a military member seeking to adopt a child, then it is a good idea to speak with an experienced adoption lawyer about your rights and responsibilities.
5. When a child is adopted in a foreign country, the adoptive parents can avoid immigration problems by registering the adoption order in Texas.
Once the foreign adoption order is registered and the court approves, the state registrar will issue a birth certificate for the child. The petition for registering the foreign adoption can be attached to a petition for a name change.
Ensure a smooth transition by working with a lawyer with experience in multiple kinds of adoption.
Many of the obstacles encountered in adoption are procedural, though sometimes the process is characterized by conflict and high emotions. Whether you are a stepparent, grandparent, other family member or a private individual petitioning to adopt a child, working with an experienced adoption attorney can smooth out the process.