Houston Adoption Attorneys
Assistance with a Wide Range of Adoptions Case Types
Adopting a child is an incredibly fulfilling process for many individuals and families. However, as anyone who has been through the adoption process knows, it can sometimes become more complicated than might be expected. Many parents don’t have the information or support they need to fully understand their rights and options before, during, and after the adoption process.
Types of Adoption We Handle
At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, we can help you with all your legal needs relating to adoption, including:
- Adoptions through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
- Adult adoptions
- Open adoptions
- Closed adoptions
- Stepparent adoptions
When it comes to matters as important as expanding your family, make sure your adoption is in experienced, capable hands.
Why You Need an Attorney
Whether you are adopting a child or an adult, finalizing a adoption can be difficult to navigate without the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney..
Contacting an attorney ensures that your best interests are represented throughout the entire adoption process and the adoption is finalized in a timely fashion. An adoption attorney can help you each step of the process, whether it is filing the necessary paperwork, ensuring all the proper procedures and reports are completed, appearing at the adoption proceedings, or changing your last name.
Adoption Process and Roadblocks
The tedious obstacles associated with adoption can quickly turn what is supposed to be a delight into a stressful burden. Before starting the adoption process, potential adoptive parents must consider:
- Deciding between an open and closed adoption
- Deciding whether to adopt through an agency or through an independent contract involving the biological parents
- If proceeding with an agency, deciding between a public and private agency
- Assessing all legal requirements of individuals wishing to adopt
- Considering one’s qualifications to adopt in accordance with the Uniform Adoption Act
- Guidance on the required petition to the court to grant the adoption, which is required for all adoptions
- How to present the required “preponderance of evidence” to the court (proves that the course of adaptive action is in the best interests of the child through “clear and convincing evidence”)
Understanding the best courses of action concerning each of these aspects of adoption becomes quickly overwhelming to people without prior knowledge of the law. That is why it is in your best interests to consult an adoption lawyer near you.
Adult adoptions occur for several reasons including when an adult child wants to acknowledge the people who raised them, the adoptee requires custody or guardianship, or the adoptive parent wants the adoptee to inherit from their estate. In some cases, an adult may be bonded with a stepparent and wants to share his or her last name. A same-sex domestic partner may want to adopt an adult child when they were unable to legally do so before. Despite the advantages of adult adoption, many people are unaware of exactly how this process works.
Adult Adoption Laws and Process
Adoption laws in Texas require that the adoptive parent(s) file a petition to adopt an adult with the court in order to adopt an individual. Such petition must be filed in the county where the prospective adoptive parent resides. If the prospective adoptive parent is married, both spouses must join in the petition for adoption. The adult being adopted must provide written consent that he or she consents to the adoption. Notice of adoption need not be given to the biological parents or any family of the adult who is about to be adopted.
Adult adoption is not permitted in certain situations, such as if the motive for adoption is to defraud creditors or avoid other legal obligations. The court will not permit an adoption if either party appears to be under duress to agree to the adoption. Adult adoption is also prohibited in cases where the adoption is performed so a party can receive benefits under immigration law.
The court will permit adoption if all requirements have been fulfilled. The Texas Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate for an adopted adult, changing the individual’s last name to be the same as their adoptive parents.
Closed adoptions are unique because of the total lack of communication between the biological parent(s) and adoptive parent(s). All communication is handled through a third party to ensure all participants remain anonymous. After the adoption is completed, all anonymous communication ceases entirely.
There are several benefits to closed adoptions:
- A new chapter – The lack of direct communication between a biological parent and the adoptive family often makes moving on a lot easier.
- Privacy – Closed adoptions provide privacy for both a biological parent and the adoptive family. A biological parent may feel more protected after placing a child up for adoption – he or she may feel less exposed to judgement. Adoptive families often appreciate the privacy of a closed adoption as well.
- Protection – If, for example, the family of a biological parent is unstable, or not conducive to contact with a child, closed adoptions can eliminate the possibility of exposing the child to an unsafe environment.
- Likelihood of adoption – Open contact with the adoptive family can makes a biological parent question his or her decision to place a child up for adoption. Closed adoptions often reduce the risk of hesitancy on the part of a biological parent.
There are also a few drawbacks to closed adoptions:
- Adopted child/biological parent relationship – The inability to contact his or her biological parent may create questions for the adopted child, as the identity of his or her biological parents always remains undiscovered.
- Medical information – Once the adoption takes place, there is no further anonymous communication between a biological parent and the adoptive family. This means that if the biological parent develops or discovers a health issue that the adopted child is genetically predisposed to, he or she may not be able to communicate this to the adoptive family.
Adoption through The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services ("CPS")
When you want to add to your family via adoption through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, otherwise knowns as Child Protective Services or CPS, you must follow the process fully and completely. Mistakes can delay or prevent your adoption altogether. Holmes, Diggs & Sadler can ensure the process is completed as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
Requirements to Become a Prospective Adoptive Parent Through CPS
To adopt a child in Texas, through CPS, you must satisfy numerous requirements set by the Department of Family and Protective Services. Such requirements include:
- You must: be at least 21 years if age, be financially stable, and responsible and mature adults,
- Complete an application to adopt,
- Share information regarding your background and lifestyle,
- Provide relative and non-relative references,
- Allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household,
- Agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members, and
- Attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children.
The home study involves a caseworker personally visiting your home, reviewing the home situation, and interviewing you. Other elements your caseworker will review include:
- Your financial history
- Your medical history
- Your personal history and lifestyle
- Your experience with childcare
- Your ability to provide for the child’s needs
As you can see, adoption can be a complex process that requires a great deal of investigation into your life. At Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, we can help prepare all required information and help guide you through all the steps in the process.
Open adoptions are an increasingly popular option in the United States, but that does not mean they are easy to pursue. The adoption process requires filling out and filing paperwork, completing home studies and interviews, and spending huge amounts of time and money. While this is an exciting time, and the start of something new, adoption can also be a stressful and confusing process.
What Do I Need to Know About Open Adoptions?
The distinctive feature of an open adoption is open communication between a biological parent and adoptive family. This communication can increase or decrease as the process of adoption progresses, and the adoptive family decides what they are comfortable with.
Typically, after a biological parent is connected with an adoptive family, meetings and discussions begin. These meetings can occur face-to-face or on the phone, and the identities of both the adoptive family and the biological parent are known to the other. The biological parent sometimes participates in the “home visit.” The home visit decides whether or not the prospective adoptive family’s home is a safe environment for a child. Once the child has been welcomed into their new home, communication may decrease as both the biological parent(s) and the adoptive family adjust to their new chapter of life Even if that is the case, the parties can work together to increase communication in the future.
What Are the Benefits of Open Adoption?.
There are a few reasons why open adoption may be right for you:
- Relationship development – Because open adoption allows for communication between the birth mother and the adoptive family, a relationship can form between the two parties. This may be especially important to the adopted child as they grow up.
- Medical information – If the birth mother later develops or discovers a health condition linked to genetics, she can inform the adoptive family of this information. This would be nearly impossible in a closed adoption.
- Control – Frequently in an open adoption, birth mothers and adoptive parents feel that the direct communication lends them more control over the adoptive process.
If these benefits seem attractive to you, open adoption could be the right choice for your family.
Are There Drawbacks to Open Adoption?
There are a few drawbacks to open adoption, including:
- Unstable relationships – Many choose open adoption for the potential to develop relationships; however, the nature of the relationship is not always stable.
- The feeling of co-parenting – Adoption is never co-parenting. However, sometimes the communication and visitation of a biological parent can lead to fear of uncomfortable parenting dynamics developing.
- Lack of closure – When the lines of communication are left open after the adoption is complete, it can be hard for either party to truly feel like a new chapter of their lives has begun.
If these drawbacks are concerning to you, speak to a lawyer from Holmes, Diggs & Sadler about your other options to see if there is a different form of adoption that might work better for you.
Do you want to formally adopt your stepchild? Holmes, Diggs & Sadler can help you overcome the legal obstacles so that you can enjoy full parental rights. Gaining parental rights in Texas can be very difficult and may require skilled legal maneuvering and substantial evidence to show that adoption is in the best interest of the child.
We have decades of experience in family formation, including helping stepparents become legally recognized parents of the children they already love.
Stepchild Adoption Cases We Handle
Stepchild adoption is extremely difficult in Texas, since the state strongly prefers children to remain with their biological parents. That said, a lawyer can overcome this preference and show that adoption is in the best interest of your stepchild.
An important factor in stepparent adoptions is proving that one biological parent’s rights have been terminated as to the child, which , allows Texas to shift such rights to the stepparent. If a biological parent is deceased or has willingly given up his or her parental rights to the child, this factor will be easy to prove.
If the parent is still living and unwilling to voluntarily give up their rights, your lawyer can still convince the court to terminate that parent’s rights for the following reasons:
- The parent has a history of abuse, neglect, and/or endangerment of a child
- The parent has a criminal record that includes crimes that might endanger the child (including sex crimes or crimes against children)
- The parent has abandoned the child
These types of circumstances can help you terminate the parental rights of one parent. Termination of parental rights can be accomplished through a contested or uncontested case. In other words, whether the parent objects or not, we can use the above circumstances to remove their parental rights. Once that parent’s parental rights are terminated , we can pursue a case on your behalf to allow you to adopt the child with full legal rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most of our clients come to our firm not knowing what kind of expectations to have when they are adopting. Whether they are just starting the adoption process or the process has already begun, they often find they need an expert to guide them through to the end. You can find answers to common questions about adoptions below:
How long do most adoptions take?
The length of time an adoption takes varies and depends on multiple variables, such as the age of the adoptee, the adoptive parent’s relationship to the adoptee, and the circumstances that led to the adoption. Broadly speaking, adoptions can take anywhere from a few months to over two year.
Typically, adopting an infant or a child through CPS can take longer than adopting an older child; however, the length of the process is determined on a case-by-case basis. After passing a home study, adopting a child who is undergoing some CPS involvement may take only a few months.
Is it possible for a person to adopt their child back?
If the adoption is granted and an order for adoption has been finalized and signed, then no. Once the adoption is granted and an order for adoption has been finalized and signed, any known parents’ parental rights are terminated and there is very little a biological parent can do to get their parental rights back.
If a biological parent executes a revocable affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights such paperwork allows for the parent to revoke his or her relinquishment of their parental rights within a short statutory period, which ends before the adoption order is finalized. This could potentially delay finalizing the adoption, but is not the end-all, be-all for the biological parent who is trying to maintain their parental rights and prevent the adoption from taking place. . As a result, the likelihood of that parent getting their rights to the child back (and essentially undoing your adoption) is unlikely.
Adopting gives you the ability to provide for a child or adult your care for legally and financially. If you want to adopt, Holmes, Diggs & Sadler can help.
Just call our Houston adoption attorneys at (713) 766-5355 so we can get started on your case.
A Team-Based Approach
When you hire one attorney at Holmes, Diggs & Sadler, you receive the experience, knowledge and insight of our team.
Always Prepared for Trial
Our attorneys prepare for war so we can negotiate peace. We are not afraid to go to trial if it is in the client's best interest.
Each case is reviewed by our team to ensure we are crafting a case strategy that will help you achieve a satisfactory result.
We Put Clients First
At our firm, the client drives our goals. We put you and your needs first while focusing on providing a personalized approach for your unique case.
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