Private Adoption Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
Every year, thousands of Texas families start or expand by adopting children. Although adoptive parents may take different paths to adoption, they are all driven by the same desire to provide a safe home for children whose biological parents no longer have parental rights.
Private adoption is one route you can take to adopt a child born in the United States or internationally. Of the nearly four million children born in the U.S. each year, 0.5% of them are adopted domestically as infants. There are also thousands of older children and children with special needs who would benefit from being adopted into a loving home.
If you are one of the thousands of Texans considering adoption, you may want to know how the process works and what your rights are when you make the commitment to adopt a child. Attorney James P. Peterson can help. He has helped hundreds of clients in San Antonio, Texas, start or grow a family through private adoption.
What Are Private Adoptions?
Private adoptions usually involve an infant born in the U.S., although older children and those with special needs may also be adopted. Technically, a private adoption is one in which a non-family member adopts the child, but adoption of the child by a family member (grandparent , aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) is very similar to a private adoption. Typically, the biological parents choose to give the child up for adoption and voluntarily surrender their parental rights. The voluntary surrender often means the process may take less time than a state adoption.
In a private adoption, the birth parents usually approve the adoptive parents, and many of them, if mutually agreed to, maintain some sort of relationship with the adoptive parents. It is not legal in Texas for adoptive parents to pay birth parents for their child, nor should they promise continued contact with the child after the adoption in order to induce the birth parents, but the relationship between the biological and adoptive parents begins prior to the birth of the child.
In Texas, once the biological parents provide written consent to the termination of their parental rights and the private adoption of their child, they have only 10 days to withdraw consent. The only way they can revoke consent after that period is by proving fraud or coercion. This protects the adoptive parents from the anguish of losing the child.
An adult individual may adopt a child in Texas. If they are married, their spouse must consent and will usually also adopt the child.
What Is the Private Adoption Process in Texas?
Details of the private adoption process can vary; however, there are common general steps:
The birth parents (usually the mother) will contact the adoptive parents to develop an adoption plan. The plan firms up the agreement for the biological parents to surrender their parental rights, and for the adoptive parents to become the legal parents of the child. The plan will not be formalized until after the child is born in the case of a newborn adoption.
The biological parents select the adoptive parents; however, Texas law dictates the investigation process and approval of the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents will undergo a home study where a caseworker appointed by the court will evaluate the suitability of the adoptive family, their home, and their ability to care for the child. This study is best started before the child is born.
Following the birth of the child, and more than 48 hours after the birth of the child, the mother must sign an Affidavit of Relinquishment of Parental Rights. This document is the basis of the termination of the mother's parental rights, and gives the adoptive parents the power to consent to medical treatment for the child. The court must approve the termination of the birth parents’ parental rights and bestows parental rights on the adoptive parents. There will also be home visits by the case worker after the child is placed with the adoptive parents. The court will finalize the adoption after the case worker files a positive report of the home study.
How Can Legal Counsel Help?
Adoption is a legal process. One misstep in complying with Texas law could delay the process or render disapproval from the court. A family law attorney experienced with Texas private adoptions will help you navigate the process from beginning to end. You can focus on creating a welcoming home for the child while your attorney advocates for your legal rights as adoptive parents.
Private Adoption Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
Attorney James P. Peterson is dedicated to helping families in San Antonio, Texas, and surrounding communities who want to open their homes and their hearts to children in private adoptions. If you are considering adoption, call his office to schedule a time to talk. Your family may be waiting for you, so reach out today.