You have decided that adoption is the right way to bring a child into your family. Now what? Gathering knowledge about Texas adoption laws and the types of adoptions, can be an arduous process.

In your excitement about becoming a parent through adoption Texas, remember to take the time to understand your rights and responsibilities as a prospective adoptive parent. You want to educate yourself about the options available to you. Doing some preparation on your own before contacting any adoption agency or attorney can help you understand some of the procedures you will be going through on your journey toward parenthood via adoption. There are several questions you should ask yourself prior to reaching out to any adoption professionals.

Do you meet the requirements to become an adoptive parent? Adoption law in Texas states that “any adult” may adopt a child and does not specify a minimum age requirement. However, some adoption agencies may set requirements pertaining to the ages of perspective adoptive parents they will work with.

What is the age of the child you wish to adopt? If you wish to adopt an infant, you will proceed differently than you will if adopting an older child. It is important to note that Texas law requires the consent of the child in any adoption proceeding involving a child who is twelve years of age or older.

Do you wish to consider international or domestic adoption or are you open to either? In both cases you will be required to undergo a home inspection. Do you have a home and lifestyle that will adequately meet the needs of a child and the financial and emotional resources to undergo the adoption process you select?

They type of adoption Texas you wish to pursue is a critical choice. Let’s look at the different adoption options available and some of the pros and cons of each.

Let’s look first at open versus closed adoptions. You may have heard of the term “open adoption” and associate it with an adoption that allows the birth parents to maintain a contact with the adoptive family and the child. That pretty much sums up open adoption. While many people focus only on the advantages of open adoption, such as having ongoing, long term access to the child’s family history and medical information, it has some disadvantages. Some child development experts feel it’s important for the child and adoptive parents to have a clean break from the biological parents to allow for full integration of the child into the adoptive family. Conversely, such complete integration is an advantage to closed adoption. Also called confidential adoptions, closed adoptions allow no contact between birth parents and adoptive families. Some non-identifying information such as physical characteristics and medical history is provided to adoptive parents about the birth parents. A third option, somewhat of a “compromise” between open and closed adoption, is called “mediated adoption”. Through this method, the biological and adoptive parents keep in touch through letters and photographs exchanged periodically through a third party such as adoption agency staff or a social worker.

Families can choose whether they want to proceed with an independent adoption or go through an agency. Independent adoptions can be cheaper and faster and foster a close and collaborative relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents. The downside of independent adoption in Texas is heavy state regulations, including restrictions on the amount of money the adoptive parents can spend for the birth mother’s prenatal care. There is also considerably more work involved for the adoptive parents in finding a birth mother to work with, completing paperwork and sometimes paying fees to an attorney to assist with navigating the regulations of the adoption.

Agency facilitated adoptions will generally be more expensive and take considerably longer than independent adoptions. However, working with an accredited adoption agency has advantages that include assistance to the adoptive family with understanding laws and paperwork and help navigating the home inspection process. And of course adoption agencies are already working with birth parents and may have staff who are skilled at matching birth parents with perspective adoptive families.

There are two types of adoption agencies. Private agencies work almost exclusively to place infants, not older children. They are able to serve fewer families because of the high demand for infants to adopt and some families may easily be “screened out” of working with a private adoption agency. There are many private agencies in Texas; Adoptions With Love to name just one. A public adoption agency on the other hand, will be working to facilitate the adoptions of children of different ages. Some of these children will have siblings who are also available for adoption and others will have special medical or emotional needs. Adopting through a public agency will cost very little compared to a private agency. However, the resources private agencies offer, such as adoption counseling for all parties may not exist within the range of services offered by public agencies. One example of a public adoption agency is the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

As you can see, if you want to expand your family through adoption, you have homework to do before you hold your child in your arms. Remember that it is important to arm yourself with all of the information about what your options, rights and responsibilities are. Congratulations on taking that first important step.