Family Law is a field that sees its fair share of complex cases and circumstances for an attorney to engage in. After all, when you get down to it, we are working with people like yourself whose families are going through callous times, and sometimes the result is not exactly what our clients or we want them to be. Even on the best of days and best of outcomes, we see people- children most notably- have to suffer through a complex legal case.
However, one of the bright spots of practicing family law is being able to be a part of an adoption case. If you are interested in seeing some good in humanity as we conclude 2017, I suggest you head down to your local courthouse and check to see when their adoption cases are being heard.
In Harris County, that day is typically Friday. In a usually full of anxiety and tension setting, the final hearing in an adoption case is one of the more uplifting and fulfilling sights you could behold in a courtroom.
Adopted children, their new parents, and courtroom personnel (including the judge) are there to bow to the present that is a new parent/child relationship. Judges usually take photos with the new family and even hand out teddy bears as a sign of goodwill and good luck.
If we put this heartwarming scene off to the side for a moment, you may wonder how a person gets from wanting to adopt a child to share in the incredible moment that I shared with you in the prior paragraph. This blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, is intended to discuss the information you would need to adopt a child in Texas. There is a formal process and procedures that you must follow, and we are happy to share those steps with you today.
The basics: Adoption and what it means
So we can all start on the same footing; adopting a child means taking on the rights and duties of raising a child. In the legal sense of it, all those rights and responsibilities are being transferred to you from the child's biological parent.
If you are married, your spouse will take on those same rights and duties transferred from the child's other biological parent. Once this is done, there is no distinction between "adoptive parent" and "parent"- you have the same responsibility for the care and right to make decisions as if the child had been born to you biologically.
For you to adopt, a biological parent's rights must first be terminated
Here is the somewhat messy part of the equation. If you have petitioned a court to become the adoptive parent of a child, then that means you will have to replace that parent in terms of rights and duties.
One way this can be accomplished is to have the biological parent agree to terminate their parental rights to the child by signing an agreement to do so. If this is not a possibility, your judge must remove them as a matter of law based on neglect, abuse, being an absentee parent.
If the judge determines that it is in the child's best interest that the biological parent's rights be terminated and further specifies that it is in the child's best interest that their parental rights be transferred to you, then the adoption can proceed.
What circumstances must be in place to you to begin the adoption process?
To maximize your chances of success in an adoption case, you must be in a good position in terms of a relationship and continuous care of the child. Your child must have lived with you for at least six months before the adoption was finalized.
Furthermore, a home study must be done of your residence so that the judge has a further understanding of what sort of home environment the child is being permanently placed into. If the child you seek to adopt is over the age of 12, then the child must approve of your adopting them.
The home study that I discussed with you a moment ago merits further detail. A social worker will be appointed to your case by the court that allows an examination and investigation into your home. The physical structure and living conditions will be evaluated, and your parenting methods. Background documents will be reviewed, including a criminal history verification.
Once the social worker gives you the green light, an amicus attorney will be appointed to your case. An amicus attorney acts literally as a "friend to the court" by being its eyes and ears outside of the courtroom. The amicus can do similar work as that of the social worker but does so with an eye on the legal necessities of the adoption based on what is or is not in the child's best interests.
Having an experienced attorney practicing family law in your county is critical because they will most likely have a working relationship with your appointed amicus attorney.
Once you have received the go-ahead from the social worker and amicus attorney, your judge will schedule a hearing to ensure all paperwork has been received. Once this is done, a final hearing will occur with all parties present, including the children.
If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: Adoption E-Book
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- How can a step-parent adopt their stepchild in Texas?
- 15 Simple (But Important) Things To Remember About Texas Adoption Cases And Lawyers
- How can parental rights be terminated in Texas?
- Termination of Parental Rights and an MSA in Texas
- Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
- Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
- What rights does a father have in Texas?
- Fathers' Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?
- Adopting an adult in Texas