“Why don’t you guys just go for adoption?”
Couples who are unable to have a child of their own usually hear this phrase several times in their life. However, only people who go through the complex phase can understand that the procedure of adoption is not as simple as it appears.
Just like any other legal procedure involves understanding and implementing of a set of laws and policies listed by a state, the procedure of adoption also comes with its own legal issues and several demands of the court.
The family law court becomes most concerned when the matter is about child custody and visitation arrangements, and checks all the valid factors prior to granting someone the right to the child’s custody. This list of factors may differ from state-to-state in the U.S.. However, all states including Texas, regard the procedure of adoption as being one of the most crucial ones.
Why is the procedure of adoption a big deal?
Adoption, unlike other legal practices, involves several sensitive aspects to be taken care of, such as the emotional, psychological, and various factors related to the upbringing of the child. It is not at all as easy as exchanging a couple of papers and becoming the legal guardian of a child in the blink of an eye.
Primarily, the couple willing to adopt the child must be genuinely interested, capable, and psychologically stable, ensuring healthy and adequate upbringing of the adopted child by fulfilling all of their emotional and developmental needs. Moreover, third-party adoption is also more complex and difficult as compared to step-parent adoptions as it requires keeping the child completely away from both of their biological parents.
What Is A Third-Party Adoption?
Many people confuse the term “third-party adoption” with “tri-custody”. Both of these terms have nothing in similar, except having similar roles in the child’s upbringing.
Third-party adoption primarily consists of adopting a child whose genetic parents are unavailable for the child’s support and grooming. This usually involves adoption by grandparents, elder siblings, blood-relatives, step parents, friends, and sometimes, even complete strangers. There are various types of adoption procedures, such as through agencies or even privately.
On the other hand, tri-custody involves three people who are willing to support and take care of the child. This type of adoption is allowed in some parts of the world and is not very common. According to family law attorney in Texas, people, who had a threesome or are involved in same-sex marriages with a person who was previously married and had a child, request for tri-custody and the willingness to support the child, especially financially.
Steps to Adoption
The procedure of adoption is mainly divided into two steps that involve hard work and patience.
According to experienced family law attorney, it generally takes a minimum of 9 months for an adoptive placement. However, depending upon the situation, the time span can increase up to 2 years maximum.
The crucial two steps of adoption include:
#1: The family court must terminate the biological parents’ rights over the child
#2: The court must approve the adoption.
It is better to contact a family law attorney who can help you through the bifurcated procedure.
What Conditions Make A Child Entitled For Third-Party Adoption In Texas?
Undoubtedly, you cannot just adopt any child you feel close to. There has to be a genuine reason behind why the child is available for adoption and why the court will award the custody to a third-person. The list of such reasons includes:
#1: The biological parent is unfit or financially unstable, not being able to provide for the child
#2: The actual parent is suffering from psychological or physical disorders
#3: The parent is guilty of neglecting or abusing the child
#4: The parent is charged with excessive use of drugs and alcohol
#5: The parent deliberately wants to get rid of the child and is not willing to take their responsibility. Such parents may sign voluntary relinquishment documents to hand over their child to the third-party.
#6: Both parents are dead
According to Section 162.001, an adult may file a petition to adopt a child who may be adopted. Any of the above six conditions can be the major cause behind fulfilling the first step of adoption, that is, termination of the biological parents’ rights over the child. The family court must be provided with adequate evidence to ensure that the actual parent is not capable of raising their child.
In order to prove this or file a petition, you might need a family law attorney who can help you with this in the court.
Moreover, if one of the parents is alive, has not disappeared anywhere, and is also sufficiently capable, then the child’s custody is usually handed over to the parent.
What Factors Does a Family Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?
The procedure of adoption placement is only accomplished if it is approved by the court. This is the most crucial step as it involves fulfilling all the requirements and legal practices associated with the adoption procedure. The third-party must be sufficiently eligible to convince the family lawyer and the judge that they can take care of the child and raise them adequately, ensuring that they are better than the biological parents.
The basic requirement of a judge present at the court is to make a decision which is in the child’s best interest. This is the foremost preference and consideration of every court in Texas and various other states of the U.S. If the third-party proves that the decision should be in their favor with the help of their family law attorney, they will certainly be provided with the child’s custody rights.
Mentioned below is the checklist which is considered by almost every family court in Texas.
#1: The age of the child. The child should not be more than 18 years of age.
#2: The age and the mental and physical health of the third party. If the petitioner is above 40 years of age, it can be seen as a drawback in the court, unless, the child is very attached to the person and has been living with them since a very long time such as, grandparents or close relatives.
#3: The needs of the child including emotional, developmental, financial, etc.
#4: The environment of the proposed adoptive home and overall relationship bond between the couple who would like to adopt the child.
#5: The willingness of the couple to have the child in their house
#6: The attachment of the child with the school and community
#7: The signed health, social, educational, and genetic history report by the child’s adoptive parents, particularly if they are not a blood relative or a stepparent, as mentioned in the Section 162.008.
What Happens In “Open” And “Closed” Adoptions?
People usually have two options available for them, to either have an open adoption or a closed adoption. In an open adoption, you and your adopted child will be informed about their biological parents and will also be allowed to remain in contact with them. The real parents can see their child growing and will continue to be a part of their lives, without having any legal rights over them.
On the other hand, in a closed adoption, the adoptive parents and the child will never come to know about any details of the genetic parents and thus, will not be allowed to carry out any post-placement visits. This type of adoption is usually done through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
Several couples find adopting a child through DFPS as a simpler option. The DFPS has a huge list of children who may be adopted and who have no rights of their biological parents over them anymore. This allows interested adoptive parents to contact such organizations and propose their desire of adopting a child with the help of a suitable family lawyer.
Both of these adoptions are not very common though. People usually go for “semi-open” adoptions in which parents remain in contact through phone calls or letters. However, it is completely up to the adoptee and the adopted child to select the option which is best suited to them.