Adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family. It can also be full of unexpected challenges. Whether you are opening your heart and home to a new family member, a caring Pearland adoption lawyer can assist you. Our skilled family attorneys understand this process and could help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
Essential Information For Parents Considering Adoption
Adoption is the legal procedure that transfers the parenting rights of a child from birth parents to adoptive parents. Under Texas Family Code §162.017, adoptive parents have the same rights and responsibilities as if they had given birth to the child. There are several different ways for someone to adopt a child, including closed, open, agency and private adoptions.
The legal process for adoption requires prospective parents to file a petition in family court. During this process, the child’s original birth certificate is sealed in the court record, and a new birth certificate is issued containing the adoptive parents’ names and identifying information. Because adoptions can be contested or uncontested, depending on the birth parents’ position, a prospective adoptive parent may benefit from consulting a knowledgeable Pearland attorney before starting this process.
What Is An Open Adoption?
In the past, adoptions routinely were ‘closed,’ and the birth and prospective adoptive parents did not meet one another. Their identifying information, such as names and addresses, remained confidential and after the adoption, the child and the birth family had no contact.
More recently, open adoptions have gained favor in Pearland. In an open adoption, the parents can get to know each other, and exchange medical histories and family backgrounds. The birth family can maintain a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents under whatever terms the parties agree. An experienced lawyer in Pearland could explain the advantages and disadvantages of closed and open adoptions and the legal process for each.
Who Can Adopt In Pearland?
Under state law, any emotionally and financially stable adult over age 21 may adopt, regardless of gender, marital status or sexual orientation. However, if one spouse seeks to adopt, the other must join in the petition.
Stepparents may also adopt their spouse’s children. In some cases, grandparents may adopt their grandchildren, although there are stringent requirements for this case, including the biological parents’ consent. Any parent considering legally bringing a child into their family should consult an experienced Pearland lawyer to determine their eligibility to adopt.
Termination Of Biological Parents’ Rights Prior To Adoption
Before an adoption can proceed, a judge must terminate the biological parent’s rights. Parents can voluntarily relinquish their rights, or a court could involuntarily terminate them. Under state law, a birth father may consent to termination at any time before the child’s birth, but the biological mother must wait at least 48 hours after the delivery before signing a consent to adoption. If biological parents object to the termination of their parental rights, a court must hold a contested termination hearing.
These cases can be extremely challenging and emotional for everyone involved. The biological parents stand to lose all contact with their child if the termination is granted, and the prospective adoptive parents may be unable to finalize the adoption if it is not. Any parent facing a contested adoption case such as this is well-advised to consult a Pearland lawyer experienced in these proceedings.
The Home Study Requirement
Anyone seeking to adopt a child must undergo a home study investigation. During the home study, the assigned investigator interviews the prospective parents and reviews their medical, criminal, employment, and financial histories. The purpose of the home study is to ensure that prospective parents can provide their adopted child a stable home. Some of the key components of a home study investigation include:
- Determining the prospective parents’ motivation for adopting
- Checking the safety of the parent’s home
- Verifying that the other family members support the adoption
- Confirming that there is no history of abuse or neglect that would endanger the child
A skilled attorney in the Pearland area could fully explain the home study requirement to parents and guide them through this stage of the adoption process.
Seek Guidance From A Compassionate Pearland Adoption Attorney
Adoption is an exciting time for you and your family. A Pearland adoption lawyer could work hard to make this legal process go as smoothly as possible. Call our skilled legal team today at 281-975-0307 in Houston or at 512-572-1207 in Austin to learn more about this process and how you can become parents to a child in need of a safe home.