Working within a Child Protective Services case means that you will be responsible for understanding the process so that you can make decisions and give input when needed. Since the range of outcomes in a CPS case can be quite dramatic you need to be aware of what can happen within your case. It is certainly possible that CPS could develop a goal with you for your child to be reunified with you and your family in your home. However, CPS could also develop a goal to terminate your parental rights and put your child up for adoption. Since this range of outcomes is so significant I recommend that you were well how to approach various issues within the case surrounding the subject of adoption.
It can be extremely intimidating For your child to be involved in a Child Protective Services case. Even if you didn't do anything to merit this investigation it can still be a shaming and disconcerting feeling to know that your parenting skills are being called into question by the government. Parents typically experience a range of emotions surrounding this topic and as a parent myself, I sympathize and empathize with anyone who has gone through something as dramatic as a CPS case. Keep in mind, however, that the result of a CPS case depends in large part on your actions and attitude.
Many parents are surprised at what can happen in connection with a CPS case. Many assume that if your child is removed from your home that there is no way that he or she will ever be returned. On the flip side, many parents that I have spoken with I would say that they were surprised their child could ever be removed from their home. No matter what your level of knowledge was before the beginning of the CPS case I recommend taking the opportunity to learn about the case now so that you will not be surprised at any outcome or event that takes place. Certainly, the availability of your child being put up for adoption is enough to make a parent sick to their stomach.
Participating in a CPS case means adhering to and following the recommendations made within a plan of service. This plan of service is developed between you as the parent and Child Protective Services. The plan of service can either be found within a court order or can be a document with a CPS letterhead on top where you agree to follow certain rules and perform certain actions to have your child returned to your home. In the eyes of CPS, there was an immediate risk of harm to your child by being left in your home and their removal was based on the desire to keep your child safe. Whether or not you agree with this decision CPS would have a court's approval to do so and therefore nothing prevents them from continuing to keep your child in their custody so long as a court believes it to be in your child's best interest.
I say this so that you do not approach your case with the mindset of a person who believes CPS is acting wrongly or without legal right to do so. You can try to fight the system tooth and nail throughout your case or you can be vigilant about your rights but also mindful that you also can fight hard to have your child returned home to you. This is the bottom line of your CPS case, you hold all the power you need to have your child reunited with you sooner rather than later period the question is what are you going to do to ensure the safe return of your child home?
What can happen if CPS believes that your child cannot be returned home safely to you?
It does happen that CPS may come to the conclusion that despite your best efforts and there's that there are no circumstances that will arise which will allow for your child to be returned home to you. If Child Protective Services makes this determination then it will make a formal recommendation within a permanency plan to the court for alternative arrangements to be made for your child once he or she cannot come home to you. A fairly typical recommendation that will be made to your CPS court judge will be that your parental rights should be terminated.
If your parental rights are terminated this means that you will have no legal relationship with your child any longer. Most significantly, this means that your ability to make decisions for your child and care for your child will be illuminated and you will have no formal relationship with him or her in the future. This is the worst-case scenario and something that you will want to prepare for so that you know how to avoid problems in the future.
What to do if you are interested in adopting a child from a CPS case?
Let's put the shoe on the other foot. Now that we have walked through the circumstances that may present themselves to terminate parental rights we can discuss what may occur if you are a person who is interested in adopting a child through the CPS process. Child Protective Services provides adoption services when a child in their care needs to be adopted or a judge appoints Child Protective Services to complete a social study when a child is put up for adoption in other circumstances. So, even if you are not planning on adopting a child who was involved in a CPS case, you still need to be aware of what CPS is and how they function.
For starters, a CPS caseworker must complete a health, social, educational, and genetic history report before placing a child up for adoption. This form will be the basis for determining any issues related to the child's health and genetic needs as well as any social or educational needs that your child may have. The CPS caseworker who is working with the family must complete this form no more than a month and a half after the date that the child's relationship with their biological mother or father were terminated. This form will be updated periodically to reflect changes in the child's status.
CPS will also assess the child's mental preparedness to be adopted. Keep in mind that many children who go through the adoption process will have gone through quite a bit and may not emotionally be ready to be adopted at this time. CPS will only present a child for adoption or recommend that adoption be permitted if the child is emotionally and psychologically ready to do so. This can be extremely frustrating if you are in the position of wanting to adopt A child but keep in mind that CPS is attempting to serve the best interests of that child and not consider any other factor primarily.
CPS will work with the child to help him or she prepare for adoption, as well. If CPS is temporarily in the custody of your child then they will help the child to understand why their parent's parental rights were terminated and what that means to their future. Part of this discussion will be the options that are available to CPS and the child as far as future placement. It will be explained that your child would either remain in the temporary care of Child Protective Services on an ongoing basis or that adoption would be an option. Depending on the age of the child you seek to adopt he or she may be able to become involved in the planning for the adoption to help him or her becomes ready for the changes that he or she is about to undergo.
Remember that many children will have little understanding of the circumstances at play in their life. All he or she knows is that one day they woke up and their parents were no longer their parents and that they were in the permanent care of the state of Texas. I think we can all sympathize with a child who finds him or herself in this position. With so many changing roles for the adults in the child's life, that child must be able to understand what role if any their biological parents, adoptive parents, and even a foster family will play in their lives moving forward.
Just as importantly, CPS will talk to the child to help him or she dispel any fears about being adopted and to discuss what the adoption process looks like. Keep in mind that once you begin working with CPS they will seek to ensure that you are given every opportunity to form a bond with these children if it is found that you are a suitable match as far as adoptive parents are concerned. Once the child has been properly prepared, and CPS has considered their perspective and concerns over the matter then the time comes for CPS to consider In adoptive parent for the child.
How does CPS help select an adoptive family for a child in their care?
A CPS caseworker who is working with the child you seek to adopt must make an effort to find and locate a family for that child who is interested in adopting him or her. This will only occur after the child's parents have had their parental rights terminated concerning that child. Do not expect to begin the process for adoption until a legal termination of parental rights has occurred. CPS will take advantage of resources made available to them to identify possible adoptive homes for the child. A heavy emphasis on doing some will occur within 60 days of the child's parents' parental rights being terminated.
Next, a CPS caseworker will review your family's home city within one month of it being completed. A home study typically involves a CPS employee not only taking a look at your home but also speaking to you and any other person who lives at your home to determine your suitability as potential adoptive parents. Multiple home cities may be conducted and if a file will be created with CPS detailing the results of those studies. As there are typically multiple families in the running to adopt A child the CPS caseworker will narrow down the list of families and will contact you regarding your suitability in their estimation.
Overall, the most important consideration from the perspective of CPS is the best interests of your prospective adopted child. CPS will seek to gain as much information as possible one evaluating the needs of the child and your family's ability to understand and meet those needs. Keep in mind that the bottom line is you and your family will need to be able to protect and nurture the child you adopt especially if he or she has been through rough circumstances as a result of a CPS case. Whether or not you are married may factor into the decision-making process but both single people and adults who are married may apply to be adopted parents in Texas.
Other considerations for Child Protective Services to make when determining an adoptive family for a child
A question that we often receive is what happens if a family of siblings is removed from a parent's home and eventually that parent's parental rights are terminated. Would the children be allowed to remain together and be adopted by the same family or would CPS allow for multiple families to come in to adopt the children individually? It is the goal of CPS to keep children that are siblings together and to keep them in the same home when and if they are adopted. There may be individual circumstances that do not allow for this to occur but the overarching goal of CPS will be to keep children together.
Another important consideration for CPS to make regarding children being adopted is the preference of a child as to where he or she will live. Just like in a divorce or child custody case the age of the child plays a role. For example, if the child you are seeking to adopt is 3 years old then it is unlikely that CPS will give much credence or time to the Desires of a 3-year-old period, on the other hand, the judge may be very interested to see what a 13 or 14-year-old has to say about their adoptive home preference.
One other important set of factors that I think you need to be aware of as you begin your journey towards adopting a child who is in the custody of CPS is that you should be aware that the child you adopt may have adjustment problems or other emotional issues related to that child's upbringing which you will have to confront head-on. Those issues may be related to the child's culture, upbringing, educational level, or a myriad of other factors. Being sensitive to your child's emotional well-being as well as the differences in your background in the child's are crucial to being able to eventually adopt.
Special considerations regarding adoption by foster parents
if you are a foster parent to a child during a CPS case and that child is eventually placed in the permanent custody of CPS then you may be interested in adopting him or her. CPS would deem you to be an inappropriate home for your foster child if all of the other factors we have mentioned today are already in place. This means that you should be able to continue to meet the minimum standards for caring for a child in Texas as well as being sensitive 2 the needs of your foster child as he or she transitions into permanent care after the conclusion of a CPS case.
There is certainly a significant difference between being a foster parent and being a legal parent of a child. This is the difference between a lifetime commitment to a child and a temporary commitment as the result of being a foster parent during a CPS case. I assume that you understand the difference but many prospective adoptive parents enter into a child's life through the foster care system and then do not consider the implications of requesting to become that child's adoptive parent. There is no legal difference between an adoptive parent and a naturally born, biological parent. You would hold the same rights and have the same duties about that child as if you had given birth or raise that child from the moment he or she was born.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about the services provided to our clients by our attorneys and staff. And you can find our lawyers in the family law courts have Southeast Texas daily and we represent our clients there with a great deal of pride.