Growing your family through a Texas adoption

Countless Texans have grown their families through adoption over the years.

Adoption is a wonderful process for children and adults alike. It allows families to grow and appreciate one another in a way that a simple custody or conservatorship cannot, and it affords legal rights that those same proceedings don't. An important example of a legal right granted by adoption involves intestacy. Did you know that a formal adoption guarantees that all children have equal intestate inheritance rights? Without that additional step, a child that the deceased had custody of for years - and possibly raised as his or her own - would be left out in the proverbial cold unless a will or trust specifically bequeathed property.

Though it has many benefits, adoption can be a complicated and expensive process. The assistance of an experienced family law attorney can both make the process less stressful and ensure that the steps are followed according to law and adoption agency protocols, keeping things moving forward without unnecessary delay.

Severing the biological parent's legal ties

Whether the adoption is of a relative (such as in the case of a stepparent adopting a spouse's child from a previous relationship, or an aunt/uncle adopting a niece or nephew), or a stranger (through an adoption agency), an important step in the process is the termination of the parental rights of the biological parent(s).

The termination of rights can be contested or uncontested, but even if, for example, a putative father has signed away his rights to a child, the court must still take the additional step of legally severing the relationship before an adoption can move forward.

Parental rights might be involuntarily terminated for someone who is alleged to have abandoned, abused, endangered or neglected the child, or for someone who will be incarcerated for a lengthy period of the child's minority. Even if a stepparent or other eligible and qualified person is willing to adopt, however, the court will not terminate a biological parent's rights unless it is in the best interests of the child to do so.

Other key steps in the adoption process

In addition to the hurdle of having to terminate the biological parent's legal rights, adoption also involves mandatory waiting periods, various interviews, home evaluations, background checks and assessments. The court system, as well as the adoption agency (if applicable) and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, are working to ensure that the adoption is really in the child's best interests, and that the child will hopefully be able to thrive in his or her new environment.

Having an attorney at your side prior to and throughout the adoption process can give you the peace of mind that you are putting your best argument forward as to why the adoption should be granted, and that you are meeting all the technical requirements and deadlines. In the Houston area, contact Cynthia Tracy, Attorney at Law, PC, for help with all your adoption-related needs. Call her firm at 281-823-8481 or send an email for more information.