There are four ways to adopt a child in Texas. The most common way today is the step-parent, grandparent or other relative adoption. Children can also be adopted through a licensed child placement agency once the parental rights of the birth parents have been terminated. Adoption can also occur through a governmental entity such as Child Protective Services after the parental rights of the parents have been terminated. Still another way is by a direct placement of the child by the birth mother who relinquishes her rights to the child.
This article will deal with the first and most common method, outlining the steps in the process.
The most typical situation is where the parents of the child are divorced or were never married, the custodial parent has remarried and his or her spouse wants to adopt the child. The first step is to terminate the parental rights of the noncustodial parent. In the case where grandparents seek to adopt, the parental rights of both parents must be terminated. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. The scope of these comments assumes a voluntary termination. The rights of a parent are terminated by an Affidavit of Relinquishment signed by the parent and verified before a notary and two witnesses. In the case of a child born out-of-wedlock and there is no presumed father, any man alleged to be the father may sign an affidavit of waiver of interest. He is not required to admit paternity of the child and may disclaim any interest in the child. This affidavit must also be signed and verified before a notary and two witnesses. This affidavit is then filed with a petition for termination and adoption. Under these circumstances the two suits can be combined if the child has lived in the home for at least six months.
The next step is the preparation of a social study and filing of same with the court. A criminal history report is also required by the court. This can be provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety through fingerprints given by the adoptive parent to an authorized agency or local law enforcement agency.
When the social study is filed with the court and the criminal history has been obtained, a brief hearing is conducted by the court and assuming all is in order, the court will grant the adoption. If the child being adopted is twelve years of age or older, the child’s consent to the adoption must be given in writing or in court. The last step is the filing of a Certificate of Adoption with the State Bureau of Vital Statistics and the issuance of a new birth certificate.
This is a fairly routine process; however, if a parent or his or her location is unknown, or they are uncooperative, additional challenges arise in order to satisfy the legal requirements of notice and due process.