To many who are considering adoption, the first thought is probably adopting an infant. In some cases, interested parents can adopt infants—even newborns—under the right circumstances. But there are also many older children who are also seeking a forever family. Nowhere is that more evident than in the foster care system in Texas.
Many prospective parents just seek to adopt one child. That’s usually the case in a private adoption where a pregnant woman interviews potential parents. But parents who adopt through Texas’ foster care system can also adopt more than one child and even family of siblings. This allows children to continue as a family and prevent them from a potential court-ordered separation.
Requirements For Adoption In Texas
We’ve previously discussed the Texas adoption process and the steps involved from the beginning until you take home your new family member or members. The criteria are the same for adoption and for becoming foster parents. You can foster a child or children prior to adoption, or just adopt outright.
Texas CPS requires foster parents to take an initial 16-hour “pre-service training,” as well as an additional 35-hour program called PRIDE, for Parent Resource Information Development Education. Additional training includes first aid with CPR, universal precautions, and training for psychotropic medications. There is also a yearly in-service training requirement from 20 to 30 hours. There are no costs for these sessions, and they are for both adoptive and foster parents.
“Family home study” is also a requirement, which includes caseworker visits to assess your home situation, personal history, abilities to care for a child or children, and other variables that factor into a placement decision.
The Foster Care System
Children who are in foster care are there for reasons that may be outside of their control. When a child is removed from a home, whether from one or two biological parents, relatives, guardians, or other caretakers, the state removes them for their own safety and wellbeing. Reasons for removal include:
- Dysfunction within the family unit
- The possibility of abuse, neglect, or abandonment
- If the state believes a child is at risk or in immediate danger in the current environment
Children who end up in foster care have been placed into safe homes where they are supported while they await permanent placement. Once they are removed from a previous living situation by the state, they are placed into a temporary family where they can be cared for and supported until their family matters are sorted by the courts.
The state’s goal is to return the child or children to their biological parents or other family members. If that isn’t a possibility, their next placement may be with biological relatives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Without eligible relatives, the next step is adoption through foster care.
Note that many foster-care children do not become eligible for adoption, and many “age out” of the foster system when they turn 18. If that happens, it is possible to adopt an adult in the state of Texas.
Adopting Through Foster Care
Many foster care parents eventually adopt children who are placed in their home for a period of time. However, it’s not necessary to be a foster parent in order to adopt a child or children currently in foster care.
Individuals interested in adopting a child or children from foster care will be required to pay for some costs, including background checks, home inspection, TB testing, and others as needed, just as they would for any adoption. Texas also offers financial assistance to those who decide to adopt foster children through the state’s Adoption Assistance Program.
Parental rights of the child or children must be terminated in order for them to be eligible for adoption. The parents may voluntarily terminate their rights to allow adoption, or a court may do so involuntarily if the parents do not meet the requirements to regain custody of their child. Your adoption must be finalized in your local district court.
The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange’s website allows you to search for a child or children who are in the system and are ready for adoption. You can also contact your local Texas Department of Family and Protective Services regions for more information or to begin the process.
Let Wendy L. Hart Help Throughout The Child Adoption Process
At the Law Office of Wendy L. Hart, our greatest professional accomplishments involve happy families brought together. As always, you can expect passionate service, thorough knowledge of Texas adoption law, and compassion towards your goal and interests. To begin the adoption process or for help with an existing legal issue related to an adoption, call our Mansfield-Fort Worth family law office today at (817) 842-2336. We’ll be happy to help.