As a parent, you know how much your child means to you. You want to be there for every important moment in their life. Sometimes, though, unforeseen life events can create a situation where someone else wants to adopt your child.
If you are in the position of needing to defend against adoption without parental consent, we have valuable information to share with you. Let’s take a look at how adoption works in Texas if one parent does not consent.
What Is Adoption Without Parental Consent?
In Texas, a child can only have two legal parents at most. Typically, those parents are their birth mother and birth father. But adoption allows those individuals to be replaced by other individuals.
In a traditional adoption, the birth parents both consent to the adoption and agree to surrender their parental rights – either as part of the adoption or well before the adoption occurs. This means there is no conflict with the law when the new parents adopt the child.
However, this isn’t the only way that birth parents can lose their parental rights. Texas laws also allow the court system to strip people of their parental rights in specific circumstances. (We will unpack these circumstances later on.)
When one or more parents have had their rights stripped by the court, the Texas Family Code allows another party to adopt their child without their consent.
Examples of Adoption Without Parental Consent
Typically, adoptions without consent involve other family members or step-parents. The following are common scenarios in which the courts may allow someone to adopt your children without your consent.
Step-Parent Adopting a Child
If your ex-spouse remarries, their new husband or wife might try to petition the court to adopt your child. Typically, the court will only approve this if your parental rights had been previously stripped (likely during a divorce proceeding).
However, they can also petition for your rights to be stripped as part of the adoption proceedings. This decision would help the court avoid the two-parent rule by approving the adoption.
Either way, if the step-parent adoption is approved, it will make it very difficult for your parental rights to be restored. This situation can be difficult if you made mistakes in your past but have since corrected your life and intend to reconnect with your child.
The good news is that you can fight the adoption with the help of family law attorneys. The adoption attorneys at Parker & Aguilar will argue that it is not in the best interests of your child for you to permanently lose your parental rights and that the court shouldn’t approve the adoption.
Adoption by Other Relatives
Adoption by other relatives – usually the child’s grandparents – is most likely to occur when the court determines that the child isn’t safe in the care of their remaining biological parents. This type of adoption usually involves a petition to remove your parental rights.
Because the relatives seeking to adopt your child might be taking action to protect them, they will often be willing to relinquish their parental rights back to you if the situation changes. However, this isn’t always the case with adoptions.
The challenge with this type of adoption is that someone (possibly a family member who you love) is making judgments about your ability to care for your child:
- If those judgments are correct, you should work with the grandparents to protect your child and create a plan to recover your parental rights in the future.
- If a grandparents’ judgment is incorrect, a court could still strip you of your parental rights based almost entirely on their word without your consent.
You shouldn’t lose your child based on an incorrect perception. If you are in this situation, we encourage you to speak with our experienced family law attorneys right away to argue on your behalf that you deserve to raise your child.
Adoption Based on Paternity
Sometimes, adoption without consent can occur when there is mistaken paternity, and someone else claims to be the biological father.
If someone believes they are the true father of your child, they can petition the court to remove the original father’s parental rights and adopt the child based on paternity. Typically, a court will only approve this if that person can prove, usually with a DNA test, that they are the actual father.
For many reasons, this can create some very problematic situations, especially if the current father is unaware of the actual paternity. However, adoption without consent isn’t the only option.
You should hire a family law lawyer immediately to support this situation.
- If you believe the person claiming to be the father of your child is wrong, we can help you form a solid legal response against the claim.
- If the person is proven to be the father of your child, we can help you determine the best legal course of action to work out an agreement with the father of the child.
If you are able to reach a fair deal that lets the birth parent connect with and raise his child, he may be willing to drop his adoption claim. Our team will work with you to defend your parental rights and reach an arrangement that protects you and the best interests of your child.
Criteria Used to Decide Adoption Cases When a Parent Doesn’t Consent
Granting an adoption without the consent of all living birth parents is a difficult decision for a judge. And typically, judges prefer not to do so if there are other options available. But the ultimate decision is usually based on one tenet: a judge will proceed with the child’s best interests in mind.
This means that the judge must be presented with clear and convincing evidence that removing the parental rights of the child’s mother or another parent is justified. Typically, this requires evidence of the following:
- Dangerous conditions within the home
- A parent engaging in criminal activities
- Conviction that would lead to jail time for a parent
- Mental or physical disability that keeps a parent from providing for a child
- Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual)
- Other situations that show the parent to be unfit
If a judge is considering stripping your parental rights, you should contact a family law attorney immediately. We will fight hard to protect your rights or potentially negotiate an arrangement that will help you regain parental rights in the future.
How Do You Get Parental Rights Restored?
Just as having your parental rights stripped requires the act of a court, so does getting your parental rights restored. When you petition the court to have your rights restored, a judge will assess your situation and determine whether you have taken corrective actions to become more fit to serve the role of parent.
However, before petitioning the court to restore your rights, we recommend working with one of our attorneys to assess your situation. We will help you determine when is a good time to formally request that you be restored as the child’s parent and help you gather evidence to present to the judge.
Contact Parker & Aguilar Today for Adoption Support
If you are concerned that you could lose access to your child, time is of the essence. We are here to help you navigate challenges related to adoption without parental consent.
We currently support clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, reach out to our offices so that we can begin fighting for your parental rights.
You can reach our offices at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with one of our helpful attorneys. Let us help you and your family navigate the adoption process in Texas.