Not every lawyer can practice family law in Texas. Family disputes can get intensely emotional for the parties and their lawyers. But, one bright area for family lawyers is adoption.
The joy of helping a child become part of a new family is incredibly satisfying, especially for a lawyer like me, as I am a child of adoption myself. That’s why I am passionate about supporting parents looking to expand their families through adoption.
I’d like to tell you more about what makes adoption lawyers and the legal adoption process in Texas unique.
Adoption Lawyers Help Build a Family
Adoption is a legal process by which a child’s legal parentage shifts from the child’s birth father and mother to an adoptive father and mother. After the adoption, the adoptive parents have all of the legal rights and responsibilities of the child’s lawful parents. These legal duties include:
- Making school, healthcare, and religious decisions for the child.
- Caring for the child’s physical and mental well-being.
- Financially supporting the child.
At the same time, the child gains all of the benefits of being the legal child of the adoptive family. These benefits include love and attention in a safe environment. They also include legal benefits such as:
- Inheriting from an adoptive parent.
- Becoming the beneficiary of Social Security benefits.
- Receiving military and veterans benefits from an adoptive parent in the armed forces.
After the judge finalizes the adoption, the state will even issue a new birth certificate listing the adoptive father and mother as the child’s parents.
Many lawyers cannot say that they helped build new relationships. Sadly, much of the law is about the past. But when a lawyer helps complete an adoption, something new is created. That’s rewarding.
Adoption Lawyers Help Birth Parents and Children
A lawyer can also help the birth father and mother through adoption. Due to rules that govern conflicts of interest, the lawyer who represents the biological parents will usually be different from the lawyer for the adopting parents. This ensures that each set of parents has an independent lawyer looking after their interests.
The lawyer for the biological parents can advise them on their rights under Texas law. Before putting up a child for adoption, the birth mother and father must understand that their parental rights will be terminated upon adoption.
In other words, a child cannot have more than one set of parents, and the rights of the biological parents must end after adoption.
In an open adoption, the biological parents can participate in selecting the adopting parents. In many situations, the biological parents will use an agency or adoption professional to help them find parents for their child.
This does not mean that the biological parents cannot have a relationship with the child after the adoption. A lawyer for the birth father and mother can negotiate with the adopting parents in an independent adoption.
This negotiation can help the biological parents secure financial assistance with medical and legal expenses associated with the birth and adoption. It can also establish the level of communication after the adoption.
Having a lawyer for the birth father and mother is even more critical when they are located outside the United States. Every country has laws that govern adoption. A lawyer may need to guide the biological mother and father through the unique wrinkles in U.S. immigration laws and Texas adoption laws.
Adoption Lawyers Are Involved in the Whole Adoption Process
Adoption is a long process in Texas. Your adoption attorneys will provide advice, counseling, and legal representation throughout the process.
In Texas, you must meet certain requirements to adopt. To be considered, you must:
- Be older than 21.
- Be financially stable.
- Pass a criminal history check.
- Provide references from relatives and non-relatives.
- Attend a free training course.
- Agree to a home study.
You and your lawyer will fill out an application to verify that you meet all of the requirements. Specific to the home study, this will require three main steps:
- Review documentation, including job, medical, and financial records.
- Interview you and everyone who lives in your home.
- Visit your home.
As you might expect, social workers who review applications and conduct home studies believe in a thorough review. They want to ensure that the child will have a safe, secure, and loving environment. Your adoption law firm will help you prepare for the review and home study to avoid complications.
After you get approved for adoption, you will find a child and agree with the agency and the biological parents to adopt the child.
Your lawyer will provide various legal services during this process, including negotiating any financial terms, preparing any agreements, and reviewing the paperwork from the biological parents consenting to the adoption.
Once the child has been placed with you, Texas law requires further home visits and interviews. This ongoing study aims to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that your circumstances have not changed.
After these post-placement home visits, the social worker gives final approval for the adoption. You and your lawyer will take this approval to court so a judge can give final and official approval to the adoption.
Hire an Adoption Lawyer Who Cares About Your Adoption
Adoptions take time and effort in Texas. It’s understandable, as the process is designed to protect the safety of adoptive children. Prospective parents must do what they can to prove that they meet the state’s requirements.
However, there are certain aspects of the process that can be expedited as you try to move through red tape and other barriers. Having an expert adoption attorney on your side makes a big difference in navigating these challenges.
I believe the key to this process is working with a lawyer who truly cares about adoptions and is passionate about facilitating the process. I find enormous satisfaction in helping parents navigate Texas adoption laws to complete a successful adoption.
I currently help parents in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County with adoptions in Texas. If you live in one of these counties, then reach out to me for support. I am unique in that I practice family law exclusively so that I can tailor my services to your exact need.
To learn about working with an adoption lawyer near you, contact my offices at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to schedule a consultation. I look forward to supporting you and your family!