San Antonio Adoption Lawyer
Adoption is the process of becoming the legal parent of a child even if you are not the biological mother or father of the child. It can be a wonderful opportunity to expand your family and help raise a child, but it is also a tremendous responsibility.
Before you can legally adopt, you have to qualify for adoption under the law, meet the requirements for adoption, and ultimately be approved for adoption by a court.
This page describes the important information you need to know on how to legally adopt a child in Texas.
Who Can Adopt?
Under the Texas Family Code, there are four situations in which you can adopt a child:
- Both parents have or will have their parental rights terminated. The termination of parent rights can be voluntary, such as in a gestational agreement, or can be involuntary, such as in a CPS case. Moreover, a petition to terminate parent rights can be combined with a suit for adoption.
- Stepparent adoption. One parent’s right have been or will be terminated, and the non-terminated parent’s spouse (the stepparent) applies for adoption.
- Parental consent. One parent’s rights have been terminated, and the other parent consents to the adoption. The adopting person must be a former stepparent, a managing conservator, or a person who has actual care, possession, and control of the child for the past 6 months.
- No Parental Consent. One parent’s rights have been terminated and the other parent does not consent, but the adopting person is a former stepparent and is either a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for the last year.
If you fit into one of these categories and wish to adopt a child, what are the next steps?
Requirements to Adopt
There are a number of steps to the adoption process. This section is designed to explain some of the most important.
First, you need to decide whether you want to go through an adoption agency or not. If you already know the specific child you want to adopt, like through a relative or friend, then you are not required to go through an agency.
Otherwise, you want to start with a licensed adoption agency. A list of agencies can be found here. If you want to adopt through the state’s foster care system, more information can be found at this link.
Second, you need to terminate the rights of at least one of the biological parents. This may be done voluntarily, if that parent wishes to relinquish his or her rights. Or it can be done involuntarily due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. As noted above, the termination can be joined with the adoption suit.
Third, you must make sure you have the proper consents. If you are married, your spouse must join the petition for adoption, even in the case of a stepparent adoption. In addition, any managing conservator of the child must consent if they are not one of the petitioners, unless you can show they are refusing consent without good cause. In addition, if the child to be adopted is at least 12 years old, he or she must give consent in writing or in open court.
Fourth, you must complete an adoption evaluation by a licensed professional. These evaluations often entail interviews with all household members, criminal background checks, home inspections, observations of the child, and reports on the health, social, educational, and genetic history of the child to be adopted.
Your attorney can often advise you on the best evaluator for your case. In addition, the Bexar County District Courts put out a list of evaluators, which can be found here. Look at the right-hand column to see which evaluators handle adoptions and how much they charge (as of the date the list was prepared).
Finally, the child has to have resided with you for at least 6 months before the adoption will be finalized.
Contact Our San Antonio Adoption Lawyer
Adoption can be a long and difficult process, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life and a tremendous gift to a child in need of a loving home. Our family law attorneys in San Antonio have worked on many successful adoptions and can guide you through every step of the process. Reach out today for a free consultation on your adoption case.