Adoption is an excellent choice for people who want to provide a loving home to children in need. However, any adoption, whether in or out of the State of Texas, is fraught with difficulties. If you're thinking about adopting, you should know what to expect. The journey may be difficult, but planning ahead of time will make it much easier. With that in mind, here are the steps that prospective parents must take to adopt a child in Texas.
How to Adopt a Child in Texas
The exact adoption requirements that a prospective parent must meet for approval to adopt in the state of Texas will vary depending on the type of adoption you want and, to a lesser extent, the professional you work with. If you want to adopt internationally, for example, you'll have to meet different requirements than someone adopting a child from foster care in Texas. Understanding the various adoption requirements in Texas is one of the first steps for anyone considering adoption.
Remember that different adoption professionals may have different requirements for prospective adoptive parents. Speak with any adoption professionals you are thinking about hiring to see if you meet their requirements and if any exceptions can be made.
The basic requirements for adopting a child in Texas are as follows. You must:
- Fill out an adoption application
- Be a mature, responsible, and financially stable adult aged at least 21 years
- Give both relative and non-relative references.
- Share information about your background and way of life.
- Provide details of your relationship status, whether widowed, single, divorced, or married. If you are widowed, please provide proof of the death of your spouse, proof of divorce if you were/are divorced, and proof of marriage if you are married.
- Attend training to learn about the problems children face when they experience neglect and abuse. The training allows the family and the family's agency to determine whether foster care or adoption is best for the family. The training sessions are completely free, and your family can opt-out at any time. In most cases, adoptive and foster parents train together.
- Allow staff to conduct a criminal background check as well as an abuse/neglect check on all adults in your household. (Adults are people 14 and older who visit or live in your home regularly.)
- Accept a home study that includes visits with all household members present, as well as an inspection of the entire home, grounds, and outbuildings.
If you've decided that adoption is the right path for you and you meet all of the above requirements, you can start the adoption process.
2. Kinds of Adoption
After deciding to adopt, the next step is to decide what type of adoption you want to pursue. This decision is influenced by several factors, including your level of comfort in each situation. Do you want to:
- Adopt domestically or internationally?
- Communicate with your child’s biological parents. There is no contact between the adoptive and birth families in a closed adoption. Open and semi-open adoptions, on the other hand, allow for varying degrees of contact.
- Adopt an older child or an infant? You can also adopt through Texas' foster care system. Many children in foster care are looking for stable and loving homes. However, you are more likely to locate older children in the state than newborns. Nonetheless, this is the least expensive option because costs are typically low and reimbursable. Adoption tax credits are available for some foster care adoptions.
When looking to adopt a child in Texas, you have several options to consider, including:
Foreign/international adoption means that the child to be adopted is a citizen of a different country. This option differs significantly from the traditional adoption process, which begins and ends in the United States. This is because it includes a unique set of requirements as well as expenses that the adoptive family must be prepared to pay.
It is best to work with a registered adoption agency to ensure proper guidance throughout the international adoption process. The adoption agency is in charge of ensuring strict adherence to the substantive laws governing international adoption. These are the laws that govern adoptions in the United States, the laws that govern adoptions in the country where the child resides, and the adoption laws of Texas.
Some of the unique fees for international adoption include the prospective parents' travel expenses to the country from which they intend to adopt, the costs of traveling within the foreign country, and the costs of obtaining a visa, passport, and other necessities for the child.
The following are the standard fees that prospective adoptive parents should expect when adopting internationally. These amounts, however, may differ depending on the country in which the child to be adopted resides.
- Fees for hiring professional adoption services
- Expenses incurred while traveling within and outside of the country
- Adoption costs are unique to the country you wish to adopt from
- Fees incurred in obtaining a child abuse clearance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Expenses incurred in purchasing necessities for the child
Domestic adoption, also known as local adoption, occurs when the children placed for adoption are located within the country's borders. This type of adoption option occurs when a child's biological mother or biological parents choose to place their child for adoption.
Domestic adoption is commonly used for a variety of reasons, including a parent's financial inability to provide for the child and the child's birth parents being mentally unfit to raise a child, among others.
When looking to adopt a child in Texas, your total costs can be expected to range between $30,000 and $45,000. To adopt, prospective parents must be prepared to pay the following fees:
- Fees for hiring professional adoption services.
- Networking costs are incurred when locating a child's biological mother/parents.
- Fees collected for home studies.
- Fees incurred in obtaining a child abuse clearance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Payments made to the child's biological parents by Texas law
- Travel expenses
- Expenses incurred as a result of the legal process.
However, prospective adoptive parents should be aware that provisions of Texas law exist to reduce the costs of adoption in the state. Foster parents can look into loans, credits, employer benefits, and other options if they need help financing their adoption.
Adoptions by Grandparents
Adopting a grandchild happens for a variety of reasons, including:
- Eligibility for Social Security benefits
- Enhanced inheritance rights
- Eligibility for health insurance
Without the consent of the parents or legal guardianship, a grandparent may have difficulty providing health insurance, enrolling children in school, and other activities. Adopting your grandchild is another way to ensure you can give them the best care possible. To adopt a grandchild, the child's relationship with his biological parents must first be severed. A termination suit may be filed concurrently with an adoption suit.
3. Adoption Costs
Adoption costs through a public state agency are inexpensive. The primary costs associated with adoption preparation are those associated with licensure, as all families must become licensed to adopt.
When working with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), these costs include TB tests, FBI fingerprints, CPR/First Aid training, and potential home updates (childproofing, medication lock boxes, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.) Each private child placement agency is unique and may require more or less.
In addition to these upfront costs, certain legal fees are required for the adoption to be completed. If the child up for adoption is eligible for adoption assistance, these fees may be minimal. The Adoption Assistance Program, including benefits and eligibility, is in CPS Policy 1700. The nonrecurring adoption expense is explained further in the section. According to CPS Policy 1714.7, adoptive families may seek up to $1,200 in reimbursement for reasonable and necessary adoption fees. Fees paid to child-placing agencies, as well as court costs, attorney fees, and other fees directly related to the legal completion of the adoption, may be included.
4. Adoption Professionals and Services to Consider
If you want to adopt in Texas, there are hundreds of resources available. The Texas Child Care database contains resources. It includes the inspection history and any available reports for each facility. Another good resource is the DFPS's list of foster and adoption agencies in Texas, which is organized by region.
It is critical to research your options, so weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each service carefully before making a decision. Because no two adoption agencies are alike, it is critical to conduct extensive research and compare all of their services and benefits before making an informed decision.
Some things to keep in mind during your search are:
- Licensing: Is your adoption agency in Texas fully licensed? You cannot ensure that the adoption process is legal or safe without it.
- Experience: What is the agency's reputation, and how long has it been in business? Does the agency have adequate staffing?
- Expenses: What are the typical costs and fee structures? Are there any extra charges?
- Availability: Something unexpected may arise. Can you contact the agency after normal business hours?
- Guidance: Are there any support services or educational opportunities available?
Please keep in mind that some organizations only work with children in the foster care system and do not perform private adoptions. Others focus on domestic adoptions, while others focus on international adoptions. These guidelines will assist you in weeding out agencies that will not meet your requirements.
5. Completing an Adoption Home Study
A home study is a necessity in any adoption, whether domestic, international, or foster care because it determines whether you and your home are suitable to raise a child. This can be done through the state, the adoption agency that is completing the adoption, or a separate home study agency.
During this process, your caseworker will come to your home to talk about your personal history, family interests and lifestyle, childcare experiences, and strengths and skills in meeting the needs of the child. This will include an interview with you (adoptive parents) as well as any other residents of your home. It will also contain state and federal criminal background checks, as well as medical and financial data.
If you are an out-of-state couple or individual looking to adopt a child from Texas, the state requires that you have your criminal background checks done in Texas. This is a safeguard in place to ensure every person looking to adopt a child from the State of Texas meets the same requirements. Many of these security measures are in place to combat cross-state child trafficking and to ensure the safety and well-being of all children up for adoption in the state.
6. Child Matching
If your clearances and interview go well, they will add you to the list of waiting families. It may take some time, but you will eventually receive a call. If you choose a private agency, they will contact you regarding the child.
In some cases, the child’s birth mother will choose you. In others, you will contact your caseworker or a photo listing service such as the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) to inquire about a child. Essentially, if you match the needs of the child in either situation, you have a chance to become an adoptive placement for them!
7. Finalizing the Adoption
The finalization marks the legal of the adoption process after a long and exciting journey. As your child becomes an official member of your family, this is an exciting time for the adoptive family.
Before the adoption is final, adoptive families must complete the following steps:
- Complete the necessary paperwork from the ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) – You are required to remain in the state until the ICPC paperwork is cleared if your adoption happens across state lines. This usually takes around 7 to 10 business days.
- Post-Placement Visits – You will have a set number of post-placement visits to complete, which will demonstrate to the adoption professional and the court that the child and your family are adjusting well to one another. Texas requires five post-placement visits on average.
- Finalization Hearing – A judge's last look at the adoption process ensures completion of all the requirements. This includes post-placement visits, ICPC completion in applicable adoption situations, and the legal termination of parental rights of both birth parents. According to the Texas Family Code, an adoption cannot be finalized until the child has been in the care of the adoptive parents for at least six months. Both adoptive parents must be present for the finalization hearing in some counties. However, if the adoptive parents live out of state, the court may not require the family to return to the state to finalize their adoption.
8. Contact After Placement
The process of how to adopt a child in Texas does not end with finalization; it is a lifelong journey for your family and the birth family of your child.
Open adoptions are always encouraged whenever possible because they are beneficial to everyone, especially the adoptee. This allows for some contact to continue between the adoptee's birth and adoptive families throughout his or her life. The amount of contact after placement life is part of the discussion in the creation of your adoption plan. Allowing you and your child's birth parents to be on the same page about your contact expectations moving forward.
Open adoption may or may not include the regular, frequent, or infrequent exchange of photos, letters, emails, phone calls, and visits. It is whatever both parties desire! Through the adoption process, many adoptive families and birth parents form very close relationships and come to think of each other as an extended family. This means that in most cases, both parties make direct eye contact. Your adoption agency of choice, on the other hand, can help to facilitate your open adoption and post-placement contact for up to 18 years and should be available if any difficulties arise in your relationship.
Adopting a child in Texas will not always be simple, but the result will always be worthwhile. When you are ready to begin the process of adopting Texas children, or if you simply want to learn more about how to adopt a child in Texas, you can find more free information from reputable sources all over the internet.
Adoption necessitates the participation of all parties. Before you can welcome a child into your family, you must first get everything in order. But the good news is that once your adoption journey is complete, another one awaits you: your life together!