Texas Adoption Process: Steps for Families in The Woodlands

According to a DFPS statistic,  4,586 children were adopted in Texas during the 2021 fiscal year, making it a promising state for hopeful adoptive parents. With numerous adoption professionals available, couples can find the guidance they need to understand how to adopt a child in our state. Below, an adoption lawyer in The Woodlands explains everything you need to know about the Texas adoption process.

Adopting in The Woodlands, Texas: First Things You Need to Know

While the Texas adoption process shares similarities with other states, specific laws and regulations make it unique. The steps can vary slightly between agencies, but the overall process remains consistent.

For couples new to adoption, the process can seem daunting due to extensive paperwork and legal terminology. To help ease the journey, we’ve outlined the Texas domestic adoption process in several clear steps.

Texas Adoption Process: What Are the Requirements?

To adopt in Texas, whether single or married, you must:

  • Be of legal age (21 years or older)
  • Have proof of stable income
  • Complete an adoption form
  • Provide information on family and work history
  • Show proof of marital status
  • Offer references
  • Complete a home study
  • Pass child abuse checks and criminal background inquiries for you and/or partner

Once you’ve decided that adoption is right for you and you meet these requirements, you can begin the process.

Step 1: Choose the Type of Adoption

The first thing you and your spouse/partner should consider is what form of adoption you are interested in.

Here are a few questions that may help:

  • Do you want to adopt a newborn or an older child?
  • Are you interested in domestic or international adoption?
  • Are you interested in communication with the birth parents?

Answering these questions will help you choose the  next steps in your process and also inform your decision about which adoption professional you will work with.

Types of Adoption Defined

Domestic Infant Adoption: In this scenario, a pregnant woman voluntarily contacts a private domestic adoption agency to arrange an adoption plan for her unborn or newborn baby. She selects the adoptive family she believes is suitable and can legally consent to the adoption at least 48 hours after birth, as per Texas consent laws. Despite common misconceptions, there are always infants in the U.S. who need adoption.

Foster Care Adoption: Children enter foster care when they are removed from their homes for safety reasons. Most children in foster care will eventually reunite with their biological families. However, if a Texas court determines a child cannot return home, the biological parents’ rights will be terminated, making the child available for adoption.

International Adoption: For those looking to adopt a child from another country, international adoption remains an option despite its declining popularity due to legal complexities, longer wait times, and higher costs.

Step 2: Complete a Home Study

A home study is required for all adoptions and assesses whether you and your home are fit for raising a child. This process involves a caseworker visiting your home in order to assess your living conditions, experience with childcare, and overall lifestyle. It includes interviews with all household members, an individual criminal background check, and an assessment of your family’s medical and financial information.

Out-of-state couples adopting from Texas must have their criminal background checks performed in Texas to ensure compliance with state regulations aimed at preventing child trafficking.

you must be patient and meet all requirements to adopt a child

Step 3: Wait for a Match

After completing the necessary steps, your profile will be shared with prospective birth mothers. The waiting period can be challenging, so maintaining a positive attitude and staying engaged in day-to-day activities or hobbies can help. Avoid obsessing over the adoption process and focus on preparing for your future child.

Step 4: Adoption Matching and Child Placement

Once a birth mother selects you, the adoption process moves towards completion. The process may involve communication between you and the birth mother before process completion, but only if you have chosen an open adoption.

According to Texas law, birth mothers have 48 hours after birth to decide on terminating their parental rights.  The birth father’s rights also need to be terminated, a process your adoption attorney will guide you through. After this, the child will be placed in your custody, although the adoption is not finalized until months later.

Step 5: Finalize the Adoption

The finalization marks the legal completion of the adoption. This involves several steps:

  • Completing ICPC paperwork if the adoption crosses state lines, requiring a stay in the state until cleared (7-10 business days)
  • Undergoing post-placement visits to ensure the child and family are adjusting well, typically five visits in Texas
  • Attending a finalization hearing where a judge reviews the adoption to ensure all requirements are met

An important thing to note: The adoption cannot be considered legally complete until the child has been in your custody for a minimum of six months. Some counties may require both adoptive parents to be present at the hearing, though exceptions exist for families adopting from other states.

The Most Important Step: Selecting an Adoption Attorney in The Woodlands

No adoption in Texas will be successful without choosing a professional who will help you navigate the legalities and provide essential services. Adoption is too complex to undertake alone, so partnering with experienced professionals is crucial. Even if you intend to work with an adoption agency for the entire Texas adoption process, you won’t be able to do it without a legal professional who can navigate all the complicated procedures on your behalf.

Reach out to one of our experienced The Woodlands adoption attorneys, and let’s get you on a path to a successful adoptive process.

Bolton Law
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Bolton Law, led by board-certified lawyer Ruby Bolton, handles all types of divorce and family law matters.

With decades of combined experience, our team will work tirelessly to get you the outcome you deserve.