Houston Adoption Attorney
When we see stories about children who need a good home, it pulls at our heartstrings. There are so many little ones out there who could benefit from a loving family. Thankfully, there are loving people who would love nothing more than to adopt one of these children and change their lives.
For some families, it takes years before they decide to adopt. They try to have their own biological children and it just doesn’t work out. They may spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments before they finally decide that adoption is the best choice.
For other families, circumstances arise that create a need or opportunity for an emergency adoption. When children are born to parents that just aren’t fit or able to care for them, family members step in and do the right thing.
There are also situations where blended families want nothing more to unify their family. When single parents marry a person who wants to legally adopt the children they come to love and adore.
The good news is, no matter the circumstances, there are compassionate and experienced adoption lawyers in Houston, Texas ready to help. For something as important as an adoption, you really want to rely on someone you trust. There is too much at stake to try to handle it on your own.
If You’re Considering an International Adoption, You Need a Houston International Adoption Lawyer
Some of the most complicated adoption cases are those that involve an international adoption. However, international adoptions are the best option for a lot of people. There are thousands of babies around the world who could use a loving parent. A lot of different countries work with our country when it comes to legal adoptions. There are a few major steps you need to take to complete an international adoption. And, although you will be working with an international adoption agency, you should also have an international adoption attorney in Houston with you every step of the way.
Steps for an International Adoption in Texas:
As mentioned above, the international adoption process can seem daunting to someone who doesn’t understand the system. Here is a basic breakdown of the international adoption process. Talk to your international adoption attorney in Houston to discuss the process in more detail.
Choose the country you wish adopt from
You need to do some research before you decide what country you’ll adopt from. You want to check to see which countries have the most children available for adoption. Also you want to make sure the country you choose has a good reputation when it comes to international adoptions. Some countries have agreements with other countries through something called the Hague Convention. These countries have relaxed travel laws when it comes to international adoptions. Your adoption agency is familiar with this information and can help you decide. Your international adoption attorney can also assist in this process. They have experience handling these types of adoptions and are familiar with the different rules and laws.
Select a professional adoption agency
If you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to do your homework on the different international adoption agencies. You’ll need to go through an adoption agency if you want to complete a successful adoption. These agencies have access to information when it comes to available children up for adoption.
Complete your home study
Under Texas law, any adult over the age of 21 is eligible to apply for an adoption. However, there are certain requirements you must meet before the adoption process starts. One of these is completing an international adoption home study. The home study will look at several factors, including:
Criminal records for anyone over 14 living in your household
Your financial records
Recent health records
Letters of reference from friends and family
Home inspection visits that take place prior to placement
Become eligible for adoption
You must complete the necessary international and local forms to become eligible for an international adoption. Contact your local international adoption lawyer to find out what these forms are. Your lawyer can help you complete the forms so you know they’re done properly. Once you become eligible, your eligibility will be good for 18 months.
Make sure the child you plan to adopt is made eligible for adoption
Just like you had to make yourself eligible for adoption, you’ll need to repeat the process on behalf of the child you intend to adopt. Once this is complete, you have to apply for your child’s visa so they can enter the United States
Obtain travel visas and then come home with your adoptive child
Finalization or Re-Adoption in Texas
When you get back to the U.S., you’ll have to either finalize your adoption or complete a re-adoption process in Texas. Basically, which process you complete will depend on the type of visa assigned to your child. Your international adoption attorney in Houston, Texas can help you complete this process.
Once your international adoption attorney in Houston helps you complete the final process in your home state of Texas, your adoption will be complete.
How Can an Adoption Attorney in Houston Help?
Not all adoptions are as complicated as an international adoption. However, it’s still not something you want to do on your own. Even if you’re working with an adoption agency, it’s really important that you rely on the services of an experienced adoption attorney in Houston.
Your adoption attorney can help streamline the adoption process for you. They are familiar with the forms required by the court. They also know the laws and rules involved with local adoptions. Depending on the situation, you may have to provide notice of the adoption to certain parties. You may have to serve copies of your adoption applications to the following:
- Biological father
- Biological mother
- Foster parents
- Current adoptive parents
Your Houston adoption attorney will help you through this process. They will make sure you meet all deadlines so that your adoption isn’t delayed or denied. They will also help you make sure you pay all of the appropriate fees and costs involved.
Your Texas Adoption Attorney Will Explain the Requirements for a Texas Adoption
Even local adoptions have certain requirements. In order to adopt a child in Texas, you need to meet certain criteria. The requirements for adoption in Texas include:
- You must be at least 21 years old
- You must be financially stable
- Be a responsible and mature adult
- Show proof of marriage or divorce depending on the circumstances
- Attend mandatory training
Once you are deemed eligible to adopt, you need to complete a home study. There is no way you can adopt a child without completing this step. You’ll be assigned a case worker who will ask for certain information regarding yourself and your family. You’ll have to provide birth records for any children living in your home. The case worker will also do a walk-thru of your home to make sure it’s a clean and safe environment for children. Since this may be the most important visit anyone ever makes to your home, it’s a good idea to clean and organize your home prior to the visit. Put all firearms away and make sure there are no dangerous conditions.
Finally, the case worker will conduct an interview with the prospective parents. They’ll ask some basic questions about you. They’ll also ask about your parenting philosophy and your reasons for wanting to adopt a child. It’s a good idea to meet with your Texas adoption attorney ahead of the walk-thru and interviews. They can answer any questions you may have ahead of time.
What Does a Private Adoption Lawyer Do?
Some people choose to do a private adoption rather than using an adoption agency. Texas law does allow private adoptions. In these cases, you’ll identify the child to be adopted on your own. You may have a friend or family member who has asked you to adopt their baby or child. Or you may have been connected to the birth mother in some other way. Regardless, you’ll be on your own for most of the adoption process. This is why it’s critical that you retain a private adoption attorney in Houston.
It’s important that a private adoption be handled perfectly. If you miss any step, the adoption can be denied. Or, even worse, it can be revoked years later by the birth parents.
Your adoption lawyer will handle the following parts of your adoption:
- Ensure that all documents are completed and filed with the correct courts or agencies
- Handle any payment that is to be made to the birth mother
- Refer you to the appropriate home study teams
- Represent you at the adoption hearing in court
- Ensure that the rights of the baby’s birth father are addressed
- Handle any issues regarding a transfer of the child from one state to another
- Ensure that all Texas laws are complied with fully
One of the big differences between a private adoption and an agency adoption has to do with the birth parents. In an agency adoption, the parents relinquish their parental rights to the agency. The agency can then assign those rights to whatever adoptive parents they see fit. In a private adoption, the birth parents relinquish their rights directly to you. Your lawyer will make sure this is done privately. This is important because, if you don’t get an irrevocable relinquishment of parental rights from the birth mother, she can change her mind for up to 10 days.
Perhaps You Need a Good Step-Parent Adoption Attorney in Houston, Texas?
A very common form of adoption in Texas is the step-parent adoption. If you already have children when you meet your new wife or husband, you may need to consider a step-parent adoption. Once you and your new partner marry, there is a good chance he’ll want to adopt your children. Obviously, this depends on the situation. If the children’s other biological parent is involved in their lives, they probably won’t be keen on signing away their rights.
Step-parent adoptions are common when one of the birth parents is out of the picture. Perhaps the children’s father took off when the children were young and you haven’t heard from him in years. Or, maybe the children’s mom has been in jail for quite some time and isn’t scheduled to come out any time soon.
In these situations, there is a good chance your new spouse will want to legally adopt your children. Before you consider doing this, you want to find out how your children feel about this. If your kids are old enough, they may have a very certain opinion about whether or not they want their step-parent to adopt them.
In Texas, step-parent adoptions are only available in the following situations:
- Only 1 biological parent is alive
- The other biological parent agrees to the adoption and is willing sign a release of his or her parental rights
- One biological parent has been absent from the child’s life for years and has shown no interest in being a part of the child’s life
- The identity of the father is unknown
If you qualify under these criteria, you may be able to complete a step-parent adoption in Texas. Contact an adoption attorney in Houston to start the process.
What is the Process for a Step-Parent Adoption in Texas?
The step-parent adoption is the most common type of adoption in Texas. If you’re interested in a step-parent adoption in Texas, there are certain steps you must take. Your Houston adoption attorney can guide you through the process. The process is straight forward but it can become very complicated. This is especially true if the other biological parent refuses to consent to the adoption.
In Texas, the following process is followed for step-parent adoptions:
Parental rights must be terminated for the other biological parent
In many cases, the biological parent will consent to the adoption. If this is the case, they will sign a paper relinquishing their parental rights. If they refuse to do so, you can file a petition with the court asking the judge to order termination of the absent parent’s rights.
File a petition for adoption with the court.
This can happen at the same time as termination of parental rights. Your adoption attorney will file your petition for adoption with the county court. All the forms and fees must be filed at the same time or the process will be delayed.
No adoption will be approved without a home study being completed. An independent case worker will come to your home and interview you and the adoptive step-parent. They will make sure your home offers a clean and safe living environment for the child. After the home study is completed, the case worker will file a report with the court advising as the conditions of your home.
Attorney ad Litum
After the home study is complete, the court will appoint an attorney ad litum. This person will review all of the information and make a recommendation to the court as to whether or not the adoption should be approved. If their recommendation is good, the court will move forward with a finalization of the adoption. If their recommendation isn’t favorable, your attorney will have to appeal the matter to the court. Depending on the reasons given, you may or may not be able to have the matter reconsidered.
Finalization of the adoption
If the attorney ad litum and the judge agree that the adoption should be approved, your petition will be granted. Once the adoption is approved, you’ll receive an order from the court ordering that the adoption be finalized. You can use this order as proof that the step-parent adoption is complete.
Contact an Adoption Attorney in Houston Today
If you’re looking into adopting a child, you need to contact a Houston adoption attorney today. Your attorney can answer any questions about the adoption process. Whether you’re looking to complete an international adoption or private adoption, your lawyer can guide you through the adoption process.
Adopting a child may be the most important decision you ever make. The last thing you want to do is try to handle it yourself. If you miss one form or filing deadline, it can not only delay the process, it can derail it. A typical adoption takes about 6-7 months. This time can more than double if you don’t follow the proper procedures.
Adoption lawyers understand how important this is to you. They will work hard to make sure the process goes smoothly. They can also help you meet any challenges you encounter along the way. Contact a local Houston adoption attorney today to schedule your free initial consultation. There’s no better time to start the adoption process.