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 arduous.
In your excitement about becoming a parent through adoption in 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. Do some preparation on your own before contacting any adoption agency or attorney. It can help you understand some of the procedures you will go through on your journey toward parenthood via adoption. It would help if you asked yourself several questions before 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 conditions about the ages of prospective adoptive parents they will work with.
What is the age of the child you wish to adopt? If you want to adopt an infant, you will proceed differently than 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 twelve-year-old or older child.
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?
The type of adoption in 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 adoption that allows the birth parents to maintain contact with the adoptive family and the child. That pretty much sums up open adoption. While many 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 the child and adoptive parents must have a clean break from the biological parents to integrate the child into the adoptive family fully.
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 how much the adoptive parents can spend on the birth mother’s prenatal care. There is also considerably more work for the adoptive parents in finding a birth mother to work with and completing paperwork, sometimes paying fees to an attorney to assist with navigating the adoption regulations.
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 assisting the adoptive family with understanding laws and paperwork and helping to navigate the home inspection process. And, of course, adoption agencies are already working with birth parents. They may have staff skilled at matching birth parents with prospective adoptive families.
There are two types of adoption agencies. Private agencies work almost exclusively to place infants, not older children. They can serve fewer families because of the high demand for infants to adopt. Some families may easily be “screened out” of working with a private adoption agency. There are many private agencies in Texas, including Adoptions With Love to name just one.
On the other hand, a public adoption agency will be working to facilitate the adoption of children of different ages. Some of these children will have siblings available for adoption, and others will have special medical or emotional needs. Adopting 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 provided 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 to arm yourself with all the information about your options, rights, and responsibilities. Congratulations on taking that first important step.