There are a number of ways to start a family. Adoption can be an exciting and happy time for a child and his new “forever” parent. In some situations, parental rights must be terminated for a parent who is not capable of caring for a child, but in other situations the biological parent may no longer be alive or may have already had their rights terminated. In situations involving the latter, a stepparent or foster parent may have decided that now is the time to formalize their relationship with the child. If you are located in the Texas Panhandle and need help navigating through the adoption process, the lawyers at Woodburn and Watkins are here to help.
Legal Proceedings During the Adoption Process in Texas
Adoption by a stepparent is generally straightforward and only requires the consent of both natural parents, unless one parent has died or already had their parent-child relationship terminated. Adoption by unrelated parents, or by a stepparent and biological parent where the other parent still has an existing parent-child relationship entails two separate and distinct lawsuits: the termination of parental rights and the adoption. For an in-depth review of termination of parental rights see our ‘termination of parental rights’ page, where the topic is discussed extensively.
Home Study and Other Background Checks
To effectuate an adoption, the new parent must complete a number of unique and complex steps to ensure that the adoption of the child is in the child’s best interests. Some of these steps may include a criminal history and background check as well as a home study.
A prospective adoptive parent, their family unit, and their home must be subjected to a thorough vetting by a licensed child adoption evaluator chosen by a judge. This child adoption evaluator will evaluate the potential prospective adoptive parent(s) to ensure that adoption is in the best interests of the child. The adoption evaluator must have qualifications justifying their ability to aid in the determination, including minimum educational requirements, minimal practical experience, and a thorough knowledge of the law as it relates to the parties and the child. This person will visit the home, individuals concerning the potential adoptive parent’s character and his or her ability to parent a child. The adoption evaluator will have access to all medical records, psychological records, psychiatric records, and school records of the prospective adoptive parents and the child.
A prospective adoptive parent must also be subjected to a full criminal and background check conducted by the Department of Public Safety, the results of which will be forwarded directly from the Department of Public Safety to the Court, the Adoption Evaluator, and any Guardian Ad Litem appointed to represent the child.
If the child has ever resided in a state other than Texas, the law requires full disclosure of each of the child’s places of residence and caregivers.
Guardian Ad Litem
Courts often appoint a disinterested attorney to represent the interests of the child in adoptive proceedings. This Guardian Ad Litem attorney should communicate with any age appropriate child, communicate the child’s desires regarding the proposed adoption and advocate for the child’s best interests.
Choose an Experienced Texas Adoption Attorney
The adoption process can be time-consuming, complicated, and emotional. When looking for an attorney in Potter County to assist with your adoption process, you should hire a lawyer who has sufficient experience, knowledge, and expertise to complete the adoption without any mistakes. The family law attorneys at Woodburn and Watkins, located in the Texas Panhandle, have handled numerous adoptions and will make sure that your adoption is handled quickly, accurately, and correctly.