When you decide to adopt, your life will be changed forever. Navigating the legal process may seem overwhelming. Familiarizing yourself with the process can alleviate some of the stress involved. If you intend to pursue an adoption in Texas, the following information may prove helpful.
In Texas, private attorneys cannot “match” children and adoptive families. So, if you desire to adopt a child, you will either need to have a child in mind or go through an agency. Private adoptions often occur when stepparents adopt stepchildren. In other instances, a family will become aware of a child that is available for adoption through friends or family members. Some families opt to become foster families in the hope of finding a child to adopt. Other families choose to employ an adoption agency.
Once you find a child you want to adopt, you will need to file a petition with the court. Your attorney will prepare this paperwork for you and walk you through the legal process, which is actually fairly simple. The court may appoint an attorney to represent the child. If so, the attorney will want to meet with you and will make a recommendation to the court as to whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests. Additionally, you will also need to have a social study performed. A social study is a thorough investigation of your home, family, background, and relationships. You will also need to be fingerprinted for a criminal history background check.
Before the adoption is finalized, the child will need to live in your home for 6 months. This allows you the opportunity to get to know one another. You may also be allowed to review the social and medical background information provided by the biological family. This will enable you to address any concerns that you may have and to honestly assess whether this is a good fit for both the child and the family. During this time families begin to bond and often feel a moral obligation toward the child. This moral obligation will be formalized when the parents appear in court and agree to legally take responsibility for this child. Usually, by the time the adoption is finalized, the family is already a family of the heart. With the judge’s signature on the order, it becomes official! This child whom you’ve grown to love, is yours forever and your life will never be the same.
If you are considering adopting a child in Tarrant County, Texas, we can help. The Law Office of Wendy L. Hart. 817-842-2336