At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we’ve recently had a number of clients come to us with questions about adoption. There’s a little bit of confusion about how adoption works in Texas, especially around second-parent adoption, which we’ll dive into in more detail next week. We thought we’d set the table on that by covering how adoption works in Texas.

Adoption rules are covered by Section 162 of the Texas Family Code. The rules around that follow the idea that a child, at birth, has a mother and a father with legal rights as parents. However, it’s also predicated on the parent-child relationship being terminated with at least one parent.

According to the Code, a child residing in Texas may be adopted if:

(1) the parent-child relationship as to each living parent of the child has been terminated or a suit for termination is joined with the suit for adoption;
(2) the parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption;
(3) the child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, the person seeking the adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of six months preceding the adoption or is the child’s former stepparent, and the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption; or
(4) the child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the person seeking the adoption is the child’s former stepparent and has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of one year preceding the adoption.

Additionally, “The court may not grant an adoption until the child has resided with the petitioner for not less than six months,” though the Code also notes, “On request of the petitioner, the court may waive the residence requirement if the waiver is in the best interest of the child.”

What does it take to adopt a child in Texas? On the surface, it’s fairly simple. Per the Texas Administrative Code, a person seeking adoption must be at least 21 years of age and a “U.S. citizen, permanent resident or other qualified alien.”

It also stipulates an applicant must have “enough income, and be able to manage it well enough, to meet the child’s basic material needs,” and that “physical, mental, and emotional health must be sufficient to assume parenting responsibilities.” There’s also a notation requiring that a single-parent applicant must have “ability to nurture and provide for a child without assistance of a spouse,” along with the acknowledgment that a single-parent home might be the best setting for some children.

If there’s just one party who wants to adopt a child, and no one has parental rights to the child in question, an adoption case can be relatively straightforward if the prospective parent meets the guidelines. When multiple people are making a case for adopting a child, however, it can create a more complicated and potentially more contentious situation.

Those looking to adopt a child in Texas would benefit from a consultation to talk through the process, and the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance has experience in adoption matters. One of our firm’s lawyers can guide you through the process and help you to fulfill your dream of becoming an adoptive parent.