If you’ve decided to add a new member to your family, congratulations! But navigating the adoption process can be very difficult, especially if you haven’t done it before. Furthermore, gaining a child through a private adoption is a distinctly different process compared to using a public adoption agency. Before you put your heart and money into the Texas adoption process you need to answer the question, “Do I need an attorney for a private adoption?”
Many couples could encounter unexpected challenges when adopting privately. In such cases, attorneys can provide valuable assistance and advice. Furthermore, Tarrant County family law attorneys can help you determine which adoption pathway is best for your needs.
Private Adoptions Explained
A private adoption involves would-be adoptive parents meeting the parents of a new child. Adoptive parents do not visit children at an orphanage or public adoption agency. Because of this, the biological parents of a child put up for adoption must choose the adoptive parents for the adoption to proceed.
Private adoption is straightforward in many ways, although it shares many of the same regulations and restrictions as public adoption. In Texas, adoption decisions are always made based on the best interests of the child. As such, the birth parent(s) of the to-be-adopted child and the court must decide based on:
- The emotional and physical needs of the child
- The future plans for the child by the adoptive parents
- The parental abilities of any potential caregivers
- The caregivers’ home stability
- The desires of the child (in rare cases)
- Any signs of unhealthy familial or relationship behavior
Ultimately, adoption attorneys, agency officials, and birth parents try to decide whether you’ll provide a good parent-child relationship for a child before approving the adoption.
Who Can Adopt Children?
Any willing adult may ask to adopt children, although some adults may receive special circumstances and advantages when privately adopting, including:
- Stepparents, who may ask to adopt children they currently care for without necessarily terminating the rights of biological parents
- Adults who receive explicit consent from the biological parents of a child at least two years of age or older
Parental consent is not always necessary for private adoptions. For example, if one parent has had his or her rights terminated and the individual seeking adoption is a former stepparent and has been caring for the child for at least one year before filing for adoption, stepparent adoption may proceed without the consent of the first or biological parent.
The Texas Adoption Process for Adoptive Parents
All adoptive parents (both those who use a public agency and those who adopt privately) must go through an exhaustive process to determine their worthiness for parenthood. The state enforces this process to ensure that children are not adopted by abusive or inconsiderate adults.
Contact a Private Adoption Agency
Firstly, would-be adoptive parents must contact a private adoption agency. Such agencies are distinct from public agencies in that they directly connect adoptive parents to biological parents who are in need.
Family law attorneys may help adoptive parents find these agencies or connect with those who are giving up their children for adoption.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Private Adoption?
In most cases of simple adoption then you probably do not. If, on the other hand, there are potential concerns or red flags involved, i.e. parents with felonies or violent history, then getting in front of the problem may be the only successful path forward for adoption.
Agree to Interviews and/or Home Examinations
After an initial meeting, adoptive parents must agree to several interviews with the biological parents of the child(ren), in addition to home examinations (in some circumstances). Home examinations are performed to determine whether a housing situation is safe for any future children (i.e. there aren’t any hazardous materials present, the home is reasonably clean and safe, etc.).
The adoptive parents may also be required to go through interviews with the private adoption agency staff or staff from family and protective services. Family law attorneys can assist in coaching parents through these meetings.
Meet with a Potential Adoptive Child and Parents
A pair of potential adoptive parents must meet with the child and their biological parent(s) several times before adoption can proceed. Remember, private adoption means that the biological parents must approve the adoptive parents in most circumstances.
Biological parents may question you on your religious beliefs, child-rearing philosophies, and other topics.
Submit to Relationship Assessments
Some private adoption agencies will require you and your spouse to submit to relationship assessments that test your commitment to one another, your emotional stability maturity, and other factors. These relationship assessments determine whether you and your partner will be a good two-parent household for an adopted child.
Submit to a Background Check
All potential parents must also submit to a background check, which will check for criminal history, work experience, and any past experience with adoption agencies.
Consult with a Court for a Final Decision
Lastly, your private adoption decision will be made by a court, and the biological parent(s) of the children put up for adoption. A family law attorney can help your chances of securing a successful adoption, especially when the outcome is unclear.
Why Can Texas Family Law Attorneys Help?
As you can see, the private adoption process is anything but simple. Many excellent parents find that it’s easy to falter multiple times on the pathway to adoption. That’s why it’s crucial to get legal assistance from adoption law firms or family lawyers.
Whether you’ve just started considering adoption or are looking to begin the paperwork ASAP, speaking to a Texas family law or private adoption attorney is always wise. Family law attorneys can help you with the adoption process by:
- Offering critical legal services
- Helping you file your paperwork on time and correctly
- Work with the adoption agency on your behalf
- Navigate any legal issues that may appear
- Advise you in ways you can maximize your chances for a successful adoption
In other words, Texas adoption attorneys can maximize your chances of successful adoption and even help you find willing parents who need adoptive, caring adopters like you.
Maynard Law has experienced family law attorneys who are ready and willing to help you with your private adoption case or offer legal advice. Our law office serves families throughout the Tarrant County area and Fort Worth. Contact us today for more information and a free consultation.