Houston Adoption Lawyer
"We are passionate about educating clients and walking them through the legal process." Mary E. Ramos - Attorney At Law
Adoption in Texas
Welcoming a new member into the family via adoption is an exciting time for families. However, the adoption process can be challenging and confusing. The Ramos Law Firm can help you and your family members with the legal adoptions of both children and adults. While many firms do all types of adoptions, we focus on stepparent adoptions or adoption cases where the child has been placed with a prospective adoptive parent, either by Child Protective Services or via a family member, for an extended period of time. If you believe you are a candidate to adopt a child we can help to make that a reality. We can provide you information to determine if you meet the Texas Family Code requirements for an adoption and how to proceed.
What is an adoption?
An adoption is a legal arrangement where parental rights are transferred from the natural or birth parents to the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents then become legally responsible for the child they adopt and they obtain all legal parental rights with regard to the child, as if the child were biologically born to them.
What is the Adoption Process in Texas?
The adoption process in Texas consists of the following:
- Pre-Adoptive Home Study Ė This is a report prepared by a licensed social worker with experience specific to adoption studies. The information collected during a home study helps the Court decide that an adoption is in the best interest of the child. This process is a very detailed review of the adoptive parents and includes the following:
- Interview of adoptive parents
- Verification of legal documents
- Letters of reference from friends and family
- Confirmation of finanical status
- Criminal history check
- Child abuse check
- Termination of Parental Rights - Before a child can be adopted, one or both of biological parents' rights must be terminated. In Texas, this can be done voluntarily or involuntary under certain circumstances.
- Final Adoption – Once a termination has been completed and other requirements have been met, a judge will hear the final case and approve an adoption.
What is a Stepparent adoption?
The most common form of adoption in the state of Texas is a stepparent adoption. A stepparent adoption of a stepchild creates a permanent and legal parent-child relationship; in the eyes of the law it is as if the stepparent is a biological parent. This means that even if the step-parent and biological parent were to be divorced later the parent-child relationship would survive.
For any sort of adoption to occur, first there must be a termination of one of the biological parentís rights. This is possible when a biological parent has either voluntarily relinquished their rights or they have been terminated by the State due to abandonment, abuse/neglect or being deemed as an unfit parent. Termination of oneís parental rights is taken very seriously by the Courts so there must be good cause for a parentís rights to be terminated or relinquished.
Often an adoption and termination may be combined into one proceeding. The Court then must make two determinations, first that it is in the best interest of the child that a parentís rights be terminated and second that it is in the childís best interest that the adoption be granted.
Before an adoption may be granted, certain requirements must be met. The Texas Family Code requires that the child must have lived with the proposed adoptive parent for at least six months before an adoption can be granted. A child under the age of two may not be adopted and an adoption for a child over the age of 12 requires that the child give consent to being adopted. A stepparent adoption also requires that the married couple must both join in on the petition for adoption. The parents must provide a copy of their criminal record before an adoption is granted. The aforementioned home study must be completed before a judge will sign off on an adoption. Once all of these requirements have been satisfied the adoption may go before a Judge to be granted.
An important part of finalizing the adoption process for your family may be changing the childís last name to reflect that of the adoptive parent or family.
The childís name may be changed during the adoption proceeding to the legal last name of an adoptive parent.
Once the adoption is complete, Texas law no longer recognizes the adoptive parent as a stepparent; the adoptive parent now has all the duties, rights and obligations to the child as any biological parenting.
Need an experienced Houston Adoption Lawyer? For more information visit our frequently asked questions regarding adoptions.