Understanding the Texas Adoption and Foster Care Processes
In a perfect world, every child would be part of a loving family unit. Unfortunately, at any given time, the children listed with the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) alone can number at or near 1,000. Even though the state has defined clear adoption and foster care application processes to assess any concerns, you can sometimes expect unexpected legal challenges to arise along the way. That said, it makes sense for potential adopters or foster care parents to seek advice from experienced Dallas adoption attorneys before starting the adoption or foster care process.
The Basic Steps Require Information and Assessment
The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) operates DFPS and offers a summary of the Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent that explains the following basic procedures that everyone goes through to adopt or foster children:
- Begin with introductory training: Before beginning the adoption process, parents need to meet certain basic requirements and learn more about what to expect. In Texas, every individual who wants to adopt children or provide foster care must attend a meeting that clarifies some of the details.
- Meet with DFPS: Anyone who meets certain basic qualifications is then invited to meet with DFPS for a more personal two-way assessment. Of course, DFPS needs to assess every family, but families also need more information to explore if adoption is the right choice. The adoption application process can begin at this point.
- Foster care applicants must get additional training: Of course, anyone who takes responsibility for children needs to know how to care for them. However, since foster families often care for multiple and varied children, they require an especially wide range of instruction to address any number of medical, emotional and developmental needs. For this reason, foster applicants are required to attend the Parent Resource for Information Development Education (PRIDE) training program.
- Undergo a family home study: Adoptions cannot take place without a home visit by a caseworker who visits potential adoptive homes and conducts detailed discussions about family member child care experience, backgrounds, interests and lifestyles. This is also the time when family members can present information about the types of children who would best fit as new family members.
Understand that these basic steps focus solely on helping to ensure that adoption or foster care is a viable alternative — and to define the most appropriate child selection options.
Unexpected Legal Concerns Can Arise During or Following the Adoption or Foster Care Process
Naturally, either process involves the proper completion of one or more forms. Prospective adoptive parents must also understand the advantages and disadvantages between private and public agency adoptions. Individuals seeking to adopt a family member can go through different procedures and requirements.
Just as important, prospective adoptive or foster care parents can experience unanticipated issues anytime during the process. In spite of due diligence, an undiscovered biological parent can suddenly express an interest in a child. International adoptions, in particular, can become complicated by changes in the laws of the country of origin or any number of other concerns. Even issues related directly to the legal process or the courts can potentially appear without warning.
An experienced Dallas family lawyer helps families to know what to expect throughout the process, provides support and guidance along the way and can even provide referrals to special resources that can help families under unique circumstances. Please feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation at your convenience to learn more about how we can help.