Adopting in Dallas
Private Domestic Adoptions
Thinking of adopting in Dallas? Congratulations! It’s probably one of the biggest acts and expressions of love you can show a child. I can’t think of a better way of expressing love than telling a child (and then making it legally official) that you (and your spouse if you are married) will take that child and love them, protect them, feed them, shelter them, discipline them, and educate them. My hat is off to you. You’re a rock star.
What is a Private Domestic Adoption?
Private Domestic Adoption a generic term I’ve coined for the following situation: a child (a person under the age of 18) is located locally in Texas and you want to start legal proceedings to start the adoption process and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (commonly referred to as CPS) is not involved. You simply hire and pay a private lawyer, and the lawyer you hire handles the legal paperwork for you.
Typically a private adoption is where a child comes into a married couple’s life either by accident, death of the parents or agreement between the parents and the State isn’t involved. Adoption by accident? Yes it has happened. Usually it means simply that, due to the life circumstances of the birth parents, a child will find his/her way into a prospective parent’s life and everyone simply agrees (including the child) that the adoptive parents are in a better position to take care of the child than the birth parents. Sometimes the child wasn’t planned and everyone agrees the child will be better off with the prospective parents. The vast majority of private adoptions usually include a family member adopting another family member’s child.
Legal Matters Involving Adoption
There are a million exceptions to some of these requirements but this author wants to give the reader a sense of what is involved. Particulars can always be discussed in person. A person wanting to adopt a child must do or comply with the following:
- Both biological parents’ parental rights have been terminated or they have signed Affidavits of Voluntary Relinquishment.
- Join their spouse in the petition to adopt if they are married. You can’t half adopt the kid if you are married. Sorry no exceptions.
- The child must reside in this State
- The parent-child relationship as to each living parent must be terminated. If it’s a step parent adoption then the parent child relationship must be terminated between with respect to the non-adopting parent and the child must have lived with the step-parent for one year (six months if the child is less than two years old)
- If you’re a member of the military, armed forces or National Guard then the Court or an adoption evaluator cannot make a negative inference of your service. Seems like a no brainer but it’s in the Code.
- An adoption evaluation must be completed. Cannot be waived by consent of the parties or consent of the Court.
- Preparation of a Health, Social, Educational & Genetic History Report. There are tons of exceptions to this requirement and it’s usually not required for private placement adoptions but it is a requirement if you don’t meet an exception. Usual exceptions are step-parent adoptions. Click here for link of what this is.
- Criminal Histories of adoptive parents.
- Child must have resided with the adoptive parents for no less than six months. This can be waived by the Court if the waiver is in the child’s best interests.
- The adoption must be in the child’s best interests. If it’s not good for the kid then we don’t let you adopt.
The vast majority of these items are handled by the law office and attorney handling the adoption. The purpose of this article is to give the reader a sense of what is involved with an adoption. At the conclusion of the case and once all the prerequisites have been fulfilled then the Court will schedule a Court Hearing, confirm compliance of all of the above and grant the adoption. The Court will then sign a Court Order granting the adoption (done at the same time as the hearing) thus making it official and legally binding.