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Understanding the Adoption Rights for Single Parents in Texas

If you are considering adopting a child in Texas, you are no doubt eager to learn more about the process, statutory requirements, and procedural issues that are required to welcome a new member of the family. However, when you are not married, one important question will also come to mind: Can a single parent adopt a child under Texas family laws? The answer is yes, since the relevant statute does not include any requirement regarding your marital status. The law serves to recognize that a single parent is just as qualified to support the child’s needs and provide a warm, loving home environment.

 

Still, there are requirements that any potential adoptive parent must comply with to make the arrangement legal. Your Texas adoption attorney will tackle the details and necessary tasks, especially the background work and advance preparation that is critical before you ever head to court. As you get ready to work through the process, some information should help you understand the adoption rights for single parents in Texas.

 

Individuals Eligible to Adopt

 

Marital status is not relevant for purposes of qualifying, except that both parents must join in the adoption when they are a married couple. You initiate adoption by filing a petition, which must be supported by a sworn statement regarding requirements and/or qualifications. They include:

 

  • You are a financially stable, responsible adult at least 21 years old;
  • You have participated in a home study;
  • You conducted a criminal history and background check with satisfactory results; and
  • Many others.

 

In addition, your petition must address the termination of parental rights. The concept will vary according to the circumstances, but the rights of both biological parents must be terminated if adoption is by a non-biological parent. The only situation in which you would need to terminate only one parent’s rights is when you are a stepparent adopting the child of your spouse – which would obviously not pertain to a single parent adoption.

 

Rules on Who Can Be Adopted

 

The Texas statute specifically states that only a child who is legally free to be adopted can be, a requirement that pertains to termination of parental rights. There are multiple ways to meet the criteria, including:

 

  1. Voluntary termination of parental rights by both parents;
  2. Consent of a biological parent; and
  3. Without consent, if the prospective adoptive parent is the child’s former stepparent who has taken care of the child for at least one year prior to adoption.

 

With respect to #2 and #3, note that the child must be at least two years old to meet the statutory requirements. When the adoptee is 12 or older, he or she must consent to adoption in writing or before the judge.

 

Another factor related to eligibility is geographic in nature: The child must be actually present in Texas at the time of filing the petition, even if he or she legally resides elsewhere until the adoption process is complete.

 

Overview of Adoption Proceedings in Texas

 

Much of the adoption process involves preparation and completing essential tasks before filing your petition, though some issues may arise once the case is pending. For instance, you may be able to address termination of parental rights alongside your petition. When the termination was not already completed, you can request the court to do so as part of your adoption case.

 

Once all requirements are met and the court reviews all reports from the home study, interviews with references, and other information, the judge must still render a decision in accordance with the law. The statute imposes the best interests of the child standard, a concept that applies across all legal proceedings involving children. Relevant factors include:

 

  • The child’s well-being and emotional and physical needs;
  • The prospective adoptive parent’s ability to meet these needs;
  • Stability of the home environment;
  • Future plans for the child;
  • Acts or omissions that indicate an unhealthy parent-child relationship; and
  • Any other considerations that are relevant to the child’s best interests.

 

If your adoption petition is approved, you have all legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent – married or unmarried.

 

Contact a Texas Adoption Lawyer to Learn More About Your Rights

 

While state laws do not impose restrictions on unmarried individuals who want to adopt, there are still legal requirements that you must meet to establish the parent-child relationship. For more information on the adoption rights for single parents in Texas, please contact The Ramos Law Group, PLLC to set up a consultation at our offices in Houston, TX. Our knowledgeable attorneys can provide additional details and explain what to expect.