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Pre-adoptive social studies: What will yours look like and what should you expect

Attempting toadopt a child is one of the most generous and loving acts that you can undertake. If you have already filed your petition for adoption you have likely come to realize that there will be a social study completed on you, your spouse and your household. This is true whether or not you are a child’s step-parent, other relative of the child or are unrelated to the child. Rather than trying to figure out what a social study means for you and your family in the moments before one is ordered to be done, I recommend learning as much as possible beforehand.

In the social study you will have a chance to discuss with the professional assigned to your case what your goals are in the adoption and how you and your family are prepared to take on the awesome responsibility that comes with raising a child well. While some people would consider this to be an invasive aspect of the case it does not have to be. If you are prepared for what to expect then you can prepare yourself and collect your thoughts well in advance of meeting with anyone who comes into your house.

On behalf of the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC I would like to spend today’s blog post discussing this topic with you all. I can scarcely think of any issue that is more important in today’s world of families in transition and children in need. If you have any questions or seek clarification on any topic we cover today please do not hesitate to contact our office today.

What is the purpose of adoption in Texas?

Just so we can all start off with the same basis of knowledge on the subject of adoption, I Wanted to share with you what adoption is all about in our state. Adoption exists in Texas in order to create a parent-child relationship between you as an adoptive parent and your child. Once you are named as the adoptive parent there is no distinction between you as an adoptive parent and a biological parent. You are assuming the permanent roles of care, custody, and control that a biological/birth parent would have.

Your commitment is a complete one, both to the court and to your child, that you will provide the basic necessities of life for your child. The court does not play an active and involved role in your life after your adoption petition is granted. Likewise, there is no “sliding scale” of care that you are able to provide your child with due to your being “only” an adoptive parent. You’re in it fully, at this point.

Where can I file a Petition for Adoption in Texas?

A lawsuit in which you seek to adopt a child should be filed in the county where the child resides or where you reside. It does not matter if there is another court in Texas that has jurisdiction over the child in other family law related matters. Keep in mind, however, that the other case does not have to be transferred into your family law court, however.

You cannot go about the adoption alone if you are married

If you are married, your spouse must enter into the adoption process as a party to the case. If during your adoption case you and your spouse get a divorced then the court has the ability to dismiss your request for adoption until you can seek leave of court to amend your petition to include only your name.

Termination of at least one parent’s parental rights is necessary

There cannot be three parents of a child in Texas and as such one of the child’s legal parents must have their rights terminated. Once this has happened and the child has lived in your home for at least the past six months you can move forward with the adoption process.

Why is a social study done in conjunction with your adoption case?

The judge in your case has a large amount of responsibility on their shoulders in handling your adoption case. He or she must make a decision that naming you as their legal mother or father is in the child’s best interests. In making that decision you will be scrutinized a great deal. The social study functions as a means of providing the judge with additional information regarding your persona and home environment when you are not in the courtroom. The social worker assigned to your case acts as the court’s eyes and ears in relaying information and making recommendations either for or against you.

When your social worker enters your home your family members will be met with individually and then as a group. The reason is that the worker will want to see how well you relate to one another as a group but also how you respond to questions when separated.

It is common that a background search be a part of this process. A search of your criminal, employment and general background histories will be run in order to determine if there are any skeletons in your closet that render you unfit to become an adoptive parent. Past incidents involving drugs, alcohol or CPS are sure to be looked at harshly.

Any other children that live in your household that are of age (say, older than 10) will be interviewed individually as well. In addition to your children you will provide a list of references for your social worker to reach out to for additional information about you.

What happens once the social study is completed?

When the social worker has completed their study a report will be created for submittal to your judge. Once it is filed you will receive a copy along with your attorney. At the end of the study a recommendation will be made by the social worker that either the adoption should move forward or should not be approved.

In the event that the social worker recommends that your adoption application be approved and continued, there would be a final hearing in your case where a judge would render a decision on your petition. Keep in mind that if you are not recommended for adoption, you can work with the social worker in most cases to improve areas of your life or to clear up discrepancies in order to gain the worker’s recommendation. It is in these areas that an attorney is a great advantage for you to have.

What documents are required in a Texas adoption?

Just to put a bow on this subject I wanted to run through the documents that will be required in your adoption case in addition to the pre-adoptive social study.

A Health, Social, Educational and Genetic History Report will be compiled unless you are a blood relative or stepparent. This requirement may be waved in the event that you cannot locate the biological parents of the child.

If your child is over the age of 12 he or she must provide a written consent form to the court in regard to their preference on whether or not you should be able to adopt him or her.

Criminal History Report, as discussed above. You and your spouse will have a criminal background search completed.

Special circumstances for adopting a child from a foreign country will be discussed tomorrow

If you are a Texas resident interested in adopting a child from another country we will discuss some topics related to this subject at the outset of tomorrow’s blog post. Stay tuned to our blog to learn more about this issue.

Questions about adoption and the pre-adoptive social study? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

If you are interested in adopting a child and need to learn more or have information clarified for you please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We work on behalf of southeast Texas families just like yours to accomplish their goals and objectives. A free of charge consultation with a licensed family law attorney is only a phone call away.

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