The State of Texas has certain requirements that you must meet in order to be legally able to adopt a child in our state. For starters, you must be at least 21 years old and be a responsible adult with a steady job and income. It does not matter if you are single or married but you (and your spouse, if applicable) must fill out an application with the Department of Family and Protective Services or a private adoption agency in order to begin the process of being considered for adoption of a child.
The application goes into fairly in depth detail and will ask you to disclose information about your home, your lifestyle and your background in order to determine the likelihood that you will be a suitable, adoptive parent. Just like if you were applying for a job you will be asked to provide a list of references to the agency. These references should be people that know you well and have done so for an extended period of time. The references should be comprised of both relatives and non-relatives, preferably.
You must be willing to have a home study done
A home study is a critical element to any petition for adoption. Once you have asked a court to legally adopt a child or you have asked DFPS to allow you to be a foster parent you must be willing to have a social study done on your home. A social study involves a social worker coming into your home on multiple occasions in order to inspect the condition and safety of your own, ensure that all persons living in the home are “safe” to be around children and interview all persons living inside the home.
A criminal background search will also be completed of you and likely any person that is living in your home. You will need to explain any charges made against you- especially those that involve harming family members. Along these same lines a background search regarding prior Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations into you and your spouse will be conducted as well.
Attend free of charge classes as provided by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
DFPS will provide you with multiple opportunities to attend classes that detail the extent of the responsibility that you are attempting to undertake as an adoptive parent. The content in these presentations will not be mind blowing, outside the box information by any means but it will be a good refresher for you if you are unclear on the adoption process or the responsibilities that come with it.
What sort of commitments come with the adoption of a child
If you have successfully petitioned a court to adopt a child then you are, from that point forward, the legal parent. You have the same rights and duties as to that child as a biological parent would. There is no distinction that is drawn. As I tell clients all the time there is no “sliding scale” applied to an adoptive parents when it comes to care and upbringing.
First and foremost you are responsible for providing a permanent and healthy home for the child to be raised in. Along with this comes a lifelong commitment to providing a stable home and upbringing for the child. Your rights and duties officially cease as to that child once he turns eighteen, but as a parent your relationship with your child does not end at that point.
Rights and duties are split up between educational, medical, and mental health reasons. The way that you parent your child should be consistent in that you parent from the vantage point of loving that child unconditionally. However, you must be able to change your methods and tactics as your child ages and develops.
If you are fostering a child can you then adopt that child?
If you are currently a foster parent then you should know that you can adopt the child that you are fostering. This is not a sentiment or desire that you alone share. Many foster families find that after fostering a child for an extended period of time that is a natural transition to adopt the child if a permanent home/reunification with the birth family cannot be accomplished.
First of all the needs and well being of the child will be considered as to what is in their best interests. Your role as a foster mother or father is to ensure that your child is put in the best possible position to be reunified with their family of birth. You may even be in a position that you can mentor or help the birth parents get into a position where they can be reunited with their child. Keep in mind that a relative may be given preference as far as permanent placement.
Termination of a parent’s parental rights would be necessary for you to adopt the child
If you as a single foster parent, or you and your spouse as a married foster couple, would need to have the parental rights of the child’s biological/legal parents terminated before you can adopt your foster child. Again, it would need to be determined that doing so is in the child’s best interests. Foster parents are in a uniquely strong position if this is the case when it comes to the ability to adopt a child. The reason being is that you have a long history of being in control and custody of the child prior to the adoption process beginning.
At the outset of your fostering, you can apply to become certified through DFPS in order to be able to both foster and adopt children. This can potentially speed up the adoption process down the line should you and your spouse want to adopt the child. As far as the child is concerned, he or she will likely not have to be moved near as much if you take the initiative to do so at the beginning of your application process. When it comes to children that are in DFPS foster care, half of the adoptions that occur in regard to these children are by their foster parents
Can adoptive families foster other children?
If you have adopted a child you can still accept placement of children as a foster family through DFPS. Experienced foster families can often times meet with and mentor younger foster families in order to provide guidance throughout the foster/adoption process. This is key for those children who are not free to be adopted quite yet but have a plan for adoption in place. If you become certified as a potential adoptive parent at the same time you are approved to foster a child then you are in a great position.
Child Placement Agencies
A child placing agency (CPA) is a private foster care agency that works with DFPS to train and develop foster and adoptive parents while seeking to find temporary and permanent homes for children. These agencies do charge a fee, but they are minimal. Depending on your location there are a multitude of CPAs available to you, each of varying degrees of experience and skills. DFPS has resources available to you in order to learn which may be right for you and your family to work with.
Questions about foster care, adoption or any subject in family law? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
The decision to become a foster or adoptive parent is an extremely important one. It will be a challenge but can also be incredibly rewarding. If you are attempting to adopt a child it is advisable that you have the experience and skills of a licensed family law attorney available to you.
The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC combine a great many years of experience with a client-first attitude that has helped us to assist clients just like you from all parts of southeast Texas. To learn more about our office and what services we can provide to you and your family please contact our office today. We would be honored to schedule for you a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys- at no charge.