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San Antonio

Adoption Attorney

Raising a child often involves the active participation of many individuals. Aside from the child’s parents, relatives, including old siblings and grandparents, may assume responsibility for a child’s care at different times. And there are also many cases where a stepparent or another individual not related to the child by blood takes on a parental role.

But as far as Texas law is concerned, a child can only have one set of parents. Normally this is the child’s biological mother and father. For someone else to assume the legal role of a parent, it is necessary to undergo an adoption. And while some adoption scenarios are more straightforward than others, the process is fraught with legal requirements and potential complications.

That is why working with a qualified San Antonio adoption attorney is important. Whether you are seeking to adopt or a biological parent whose rights will be affected by the adoption process, you need independent legal advice from a professional looking out for your rights and interests. Attorney David J. Rodriguez has 30 years of experience in Texas family law. He can help you navigate the adoption process and achieve the best possible outcome for you, the child, and the rest of your family.

Who Can Be Adopted in Texas?

An adult can petition a Texas court to adopt a child who is legally capable of being adopted. A child who can be adopted falls into one of the following categories:

  • Both of the child’s biological parents have had (or will have) their parental rights terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction;
  • A stepparent who is married to a child’s biological parent and wishes to adopt that child;
  • The child is at least two years old, and the sole remaining legal parent consents;
  • The child is at least two years old, the court has terminated the remaining legal parent’s s rights, and a former stepparent has served as the child’s legal guardian for at least one year.

Termination of the biological parents’ rights

Under Texas law, parental rights may only be terminated by court order. A parent who wishes to relinquish their rights as a parent may sign a voluntary form to that effect. But a judge must still sign a formal court order to terminate the legal parent-child relationship.

Either parent can file a petition to terminate their parental rights. In the case of an alleged or possible father, that individual can sign an affidavit waiving any rights he might have as a parent of that child. Alternatively, if a possible father fails to file or participate in a proceeding to establish legal paternity, the court can terminate any rights that person might have as a parent.

Many third parties can petition to terminate a parent’s rights. This includes a government body, such as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and other relatives of the child. A Texas court will not terminate a parent’s rights unless it is in the child’s best interest. Some of these reasons include:

  • The parent abandoned the child by leaving them in possession of a non-parent and has expressed their intentions not to return;
  • The parent left the child in the care of a non-parent without expressing an intent not to return and remained away for at least three months without providing adequate support for the child;
  • The parent abandoned the child without identifying the child or providing them a means of being identified;
  • The parent knowingly placed or allowed the child to remain in conditions that endangered the child’s physical or emotional well-being;
  • The father of an unborn child voluntarily, and with knowledge of the mother’s pregnancy, knowingly abandoned the mother and failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother or the child;
  • The parent was the major cause of the child’s failure to be enrolled in school;
  • The parent has been convicted of a criminal offense related to the death or serious injury of a child or the death of the other parent;
  • The parent’s parent-child relationship with another child has been previously terminated due to endangering that child’s well-being; or
  • The parent used a controlled substance that endangered the child’s health or safety and failed to complete a court-ordered treatment program.

Stepparent adoptions

If a stepparent wishes to adopt a stepchild, a court must terminate the parental rights of the parent who is not the stepparent’s spouse. For example, suppose Tim marries Joan and wishes to adopt Joan’s child Sarah. In that case, Tim must petition the court to terminate the parental rights of Sarah’s biological father first, assuming that he is still alive. However, if approved by the court, Tim’s adoption of Sarah does not terminate or otherwise affect Joan’s legal rights as Sarah’s mother.

Adoptions with single-parent consent

In situations where one parent’s rights have already been terminated, the remaining parent may consent to the adoption of a child who is at least two years old by either the child’s former stepparent, a person appointed to serve as the child’s managing conservator (legal guardian); or the person who had had actual care, possession, and control of the child for at least six months before the petition for adoption was filed.

Stepparent adoption without consent

It is also possible for a former stepparent who has served as a child’s managing conservator for at least one year to seek adoption when one parent’s rights have been terminated and the remaining parent does not consent.

Commonly Asked Questions About Texas Adoptions

Who Must Consent to a Texas Adoption?

As the above scenarios illustrate, the question of who must consent to adoption will depend on the facts of a given case. But in general, the following persons must agree:

  • If you are married and wish to adopt a child, your spouse must agree and join your petition for adoption.
  • If the child involved is 12 years of age or older, they must consent to the adoption, although a court can waive this requirement if the judge determines the adoption would be in the child’s best interests.
  • If the child already has a managing conservator (legal guardian), that person must consent to the adoption in writing unless they are also the person seeking to adopt. The court can also waive this requirement for good cause.

Do You Need to be Married to Adopt a Child in Texas?

Texas has no legal requirement that an adult be married before adopting a child. But as noted above, if you are married and wish to adopt, your spouse must consent. Furthermore, if you adopt from a private agency, they may have certain marital requirements as part of their screening process.

Along similar lines, no state law forbids same-sex couples or LGBTQ+ persons from adopting a child, regardless of whether they are legally married. But again, private agencies may refuse to adopt children to such couples or individuals for religious reasons.

Is There a Minimum Age Requirement to Adopt a Child?

Texas law does not impose any minimum age threshold for someone to serve as an adoptive parent. Any legal adult over 18 may file a petition to adopt. But some private and state adoption agencies may set their minimum age requirements when screening potential adoptive parents.

Is There a Mandatory Waiting Period for an Adoption?

A child must live with a prospective parent for at least six months before the court approves an adoption. But this requirement can be waived if the judge determines it would be in the child’s best interests.

Can a Birth Parent “Advertise” Their Baby for Adoption?

It is illegal in Texas to “advertise” a child for adoption. You cannot place an ad on Craigslist seeking or offering a baby. You must go through a licensed adoption professional.

Can You Pay a Birth Mother’s Expenses Before the Adoption of Her Baby?

It is against the law in Texas to pay a birth mother in exchange for her agreement to place her baby with you for adoption. But a prospective adoptive parent may provide financial assistance to a birth mother for certain pregnancy-related expenses. This includes the costs of prenatal care, the birth itself, reasonable living expenses, and legal fees. However, remember that Texas law does not require a birth mother to refund any of these payments if she decides not to proceed with the adoption. And any expenses paid must be reviewed and approved by a Texas court.

What Happens in a Texas Adoption Proceeding?

Adoption is a process that takes time and effort in Texas. After a petition for adoption is filed, the next step is generally for the court to seek out some reports and studies. This can include:

  • One or more personal interviews with the adoptive parents and the child;
  • An evaluation of the adoptive parent’s home environment;
  • An assessment of the adoptive parents’ character references;
  • A study of how the child functions in the home environment;
  • An evaluation of the child’s relationship with the prospective adoptive parents and other members of the household; and
  • Criminal history reports for anyone living in the house with the child.

Suppose the prospective adoptive parent is not the child’s grandparent, aunt, uncle, or stepparent. In that case, the biological parent or the adoption agency must also furnish certain reports to the prospective adoptive parent. These reports provide information to the prospective adoptive parents on the child’s health, social, educational, and genetic history.

In addition to written reports, the court will typically receive oral testimony from the prospective adoptive parent and other interested parties. After considering all of the written and oral evidence, the judge will decide to approve or deny the petition for adoption.

As previously noted, the most important legal standard when considering adoption in Texas is the “best interests of the child.” This standard is commonly used in family law matters affecting children, including custody and child support disputes. While there is no strict definition of a child’s “best interests,” a court must consider several factors, including but not limited to:

  • The wishes of the child, if they are old enough to express them;
  • The child’s present and future emotional and physical needs;
  • The parental abilities of the prospective adoptive parent;
  • The resources and social support system available to the prospective adoptive parent;
  • The stability of the proposed adoptive home; and
  • Any evidence of family violence or child abuse.

Why Do You Need to Work with a Qualified San Antonio Adoption Attorney?

The adoption process often overwhelms both first-time and experienced parents. Hundreds of legal details and requirements must be followed. And even when the process runs relatively smoothly, many potential problems still need to be identified and addressed on the road to successful adoption.

There are many ways that the San Antonio adoption attorneys at the Law Office of David J. Rodriguez, PLLC, can assist you in this process. Some of the ways we help our clients include:

  • We Can Explain the Adoption Process: Different adoptions involve slightly different laws and procedures. We can review your situation and explain the process that will apply to your adoption case.
  • We Can Help You Identify the Right Adoption Agency: To arrange a private adoption, you must go through a licensed adoption agency to match you with a prospective child and biological parent. We can assist you in identifying the right agency for your needs and family situation and screen an agency or biological parent on your behalf.
  • We Can Make Sure You Follow the Rules: It must be considered how much the adoption process involves complying with many rules and regulations. Our job is to ensure everything is done according to the law. This can include making proper legal arrangements to pay a birth parent’s expenses if you want to adopt their child.
  • We Can Draft and Review All Necessary Paperwork: Many legal documents must be prepared concerning an adoption, including a petition, affidavits, consents from the biological parents, and agreements with adoption agencies. Our team can take responsibility for handling all of this necessary paperwork.
  • We Can Represent You in Court: You must appear before a judge during adoption. As with any court proceeding, you have the right to the advice of counsel. We can stand by your side and assist you in putting your best foot forward with the judge.
  • We Can Act as an Intermediary: There are many parties involved with adoption, including the biological parents, the adoption agency, and other persons with an interest in the child’s well-being. We can deal with all of these individuals and entities on your behalf.
  • We Can Protect Your Rights: An adoption attorney is there to serve as your advocate. We can help ensure that the court and other state and private agencies respect your rights under the law as a prospective adoptive parent.
  • We Can Help After the Adoption Is Complete: Several secondary issues often arise after an adoption is approved by the court, such as obtaining a revised birth certificate for the child or dealing with adoption agency contracts. We can take care of these matters so you can focus on your new child.

While you are not required to work with an attorney to adopt a child, it is in the best interest of you and your family. Adoption raises complicated legal questions. You must rely on something other than an adoption agency or state official to act with your interests. That is why you must work with your own San Antonio adoption attorney, whose only professional responsibility is defending your claims throughout the process.

If you want to speak with someone about a pending or prospective adoption case, contact the Law Office of David J. Rodriguez, PLLC, today at (210) 716-0726 to schedule an initial consultation. There is no obligation on your part. We want to sit down, learn more about your adoption situation, and explain how we can best help you achieve your goals.

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Client Testimonials
David took care of will for husband and I. Great experience. He is knowledgeable and efficient. We needed that after perusing forms online. Although reasonably intelligent we decided we definitely needed professional help. So glad we used David.
Laura Seiler
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