4 Texas Adoption Laws Every Parent Should Know
And How They Could Impact Your Adoption
Adoption is a personal, emotional and life-changing process. It is also a complex legal one — which means there are a number of Texas adoption laws and regulations hopeful parents must follow when they want to bring a new child into their family.
Even though you will have the help of an adoption specialist and attorney throughout the process, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of these adoption laws. Any understanding of these basic laws will make the process feel easier.
If you intend to adopt outside of Texas (which often occurs when working with a national adoption agency), you may also want to familiarize yourself with the expectant mother’s state adoption laws when you enter into an adoption opportunity.
If you have questions about Texas adoption laws, you should reach out to a local adoption attorney or your adoption specialist. In the meantime, the following is a basic guide for the domestic adoption laws in Texas and how they may affect your Texas adoption process. Please keep in mind that this information is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice — you will need to work with an adoption attorney to understand how Texas adoption laws will impact you in your specific situation.
Who Can Adopt in Texas?
Texas adoption laws state that any adult may adopt. The law does not specify an age minimum or adoption age limit, although individual adoption professionals may have their own age requirements to adopt in Texas.
You do not have to be married to adopt. However, a married individual cannot adopt a child on their own; they must adopt with their spouse. This also applies to anyone who is separated but not legally divorced from their spouse and anyone who wishes to adopt their spouse’s child through a stepparent adoption. There are no specific adoption laws in Texas regarding adoption and same-sex couples, and LGBTQ parents are always welcome to adopt with American Adoptions.
Any prospective parent hoping to adopt must be approved by a Texas adoption home study. This includes Texas criminal background checks, home visits, interviews and more.
Although adoption laws in Texas allow most anyone to adopt, hopeful adoptive parents will have to meet the individual adoption requirements of the professional they want to work with, as well as the requirements for the type of adoption they’re pursuing, whether that’s international, domestic, or foster care adoption in Texas. You can learn more about Texas adoption requirements here.
Who Can Be Adopted in Texas?
A minor’s parents must have their parental rights terminated before the child can be adopted in Texas.
Voluntary termination of parental rights occurs when an expectant mother makes an adoption plan for her baby with an adoption agency. According to Texas adoption laws, she must wait at least 48 hours after the birth in order to give her consent, and then her consent must be signed by two witnesses and verified before a person authorized to take oaths. Birth fathers may give their consent to adoption in Texas at any point before the child is born.
Texas Adoption Laws for Advertising
In adoption, “advertising” is used to help prospective birth parents and adoptive families find each other. It is illegal in Texas for adoptive and birth parents to advertise in regards to adoption. Only adoption professionals may advertise in Texas on behalf of birth and adoptive families.
For hopeful adoptive families, this means it is important to work with a licensed adoption agency, like American Adoptions, to find an adoption opportunity. Families who choose to complete an independent adoption will need to work closely with an experienced attorney to ensure they are not breaking any laws when searching for an expectant mother to adopt from.
Texas Adoption Laws for Birth Parent Expenses
It is illegal for prospective birth mothers to be paid in exchange for the placement of a child, in Texas and in every other state in the U.S. However, Texas adoption laws do allow for hopeful adoptive parents to assist the prospective birth mother with certain expenses during her pregnancy. These living expenses help to offset the financial pressures of pregnancy and making an adoption plan.
In Texas, adoptive families are financially responsible for:
Prenatal care, pregnancy and birth expenses of the birth mother and child
Reasonable living expenses for the birth mother to support her during the pregnancy, which may include help with rent, bills, groceries and more
The birth parent(s)’ attorney fees
Texas adoption laws don’t require the birth family to repay any paid expenses should they ultimately decide to parent, but American Adoptions does have a Risk-Sharing program that financially protects adoptive parents in the event of a disrupted adoption.
Any expenses paid to the birth parent(s) by the adoptive parent(s) are established on a case-by-case basis and approved by a Texas judge. It’s worth noting that some expectant mothers will have greater financial need than others, so birth parent expenses can vary based on individual need. Families who work with American Adoptions are able to set a budget with the help of their adoption specialist and will be considered for adoption opportunities that fall within this budget.
Payment in the form of money, favors or gifts in exchange for the placement of a child is illegal. But reasonable living expenses can help expectant mothers in Texas deal with the costs of pregnancy and birth. Your adoption specialist will help to regulate these living expenses and ensure all payments made in connection with the adoption are legal under Texas adoption laws.
While these are a few of the most important Texas adoption laws you will come across during the adoption process, remember that adoption is a complex legal process, and there may be many more regulations your adoption must follow. Every hopeful adoptive parent should work closely with their adoption attorney and agency to ensure their adoption is completed legally.
To learn more about adoption laws in Texas, or to understand which laws may apply in your individual circumstances, contact your adoption specialist or attorney. If you are ready to begin your own Texas adoption process with American Adoptions, you can request more free information online anytime.
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