Adoption Lawyer Guiding Clients in Bedford and Tarrant County, Texas, Through the Adoption Process
Adopting a child can be one of the most momentous decisions a family or individual can make. Adoption can bring joy to the lives of the family, the child, and the surrounding community. Making sure that the adoption is carried out according to the law is key to the success of the process.
Prospective adoptive parents are likely to have many questions about open vs. closed adoption, whether there should be contact with the birth parent(s) and to what extent, how to deal with relative adoptions in the most beneficial way, what their legal rights and responsibilities will be with regard to their adopted child, and other issues surrounding adoptions. Attorney Anita K. Cutrer has been practicing family law for over 20 years and accepts cases only in Tarrant County. Her comprehensive knowledge of the local court system and the fact that she is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization ensure that Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, is your best choice when considering an adoption lawyer to assist you through the process of adding to your family.
Call the law office of Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, today at (817) 813-8513 to schedule a free consultation.
What Rights do Birth Parents Have Before and After Adoption?
By Texas law, the birth mother in adoption has to maintain full parental rights for at least 48 hours after giving birth. Once the 48 hours have passed, the birth mother has the option of placing her baby for adoption. If she opts to do so, she may sign a relinquishment of parental rights document, which removes the birth mother from all parental rights. At that point, all parental rights are passed to the adoptive family. The relinquishment of parental rights is one of the primary adoption requirements in Texas. There can be no coercion or pressure on the birth mother to relinquish her parental rights, however. She must give her consent freely.
After the adoption, the birth mother no longer has any legal parental rights over the child. This does not mean, however, that the adoptive parents cannot come to an agreement with her that allows her some involvement in the child’s life. This agreement is entirely voluntary and can be facilitated by an experienced adoption lawyer. Both parties must agree to it, and the adoptive family is under no obligation to agree to ongoing involvement by the birth mother.
Do I Need an Adoption Lawyer if I’m Working with an Agency?
All adoptions require an attorney to complete the legal paperwork that is necessary to complete the adoption process. If you are working with an adoption agency, they may coordinate adoption attorney services; however, you always have the right to hire your own adoption attorney. If you are entering into an independent adoption—that is, an adoption without an agency—you will definitely need to hire an adoption attorney to complete the adoption process and ensure that all Texas adoption laws are followed.
What is Required for Adoption in Texas?
In Texas, the parental rights of at least one of the birth parents must be terminated by the court
In order for an adoption to be finalized. After that, a petition for adoption must be filed with the court. If the person filing the petition for adoption is married, both spouses will need to be named on the petition.
There are other requirements for adoption in Texas, which include:
- The child usually must live with the adoptive parents for six months or more.
- A guardian ad litem (advocate for the child) may be appointed.
- The adoptive parents must pass a criminal background check.
- Health, social, education, and genetic history report must be prepared for the child, except in stepparent adoptions.
- A court hearing must be held to determine if the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
What Are the Types of Adoptions?
There are several different types of adoptions available in Texas, including:
- Stepparent Adoptions: This is the most common type of adoption in the US. In this case, the new spouse petitions the court to become the legal parent of their child(ren) by marriage. If both biological parents are still living and have maintained parental rights, one parent’s rights must be terminated before a stepparent adoption can take place.
- Relative Adoptions: Legally adopting a relative like a sibling, cousin, niece, nephew, or grandchild, for example, requires that both parents’ legal parental rights have been terminated if they are still living.
- LGBTQ Adoptions: Married LGBTQIA+ couples are now allowed to adopt in Texas and to follow the same adoption processes as heterosexual couples, no matter the type of adoption. Surrogacy and stepparent adoption is included. Unmarried couples must adopt as two individuals adopting jointly, however.
- Interstate Adoptions: The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)legislates uniform processes for adoption across state lines, but each state still has its own individual regulatory requirements. An experienced adoption attorney can help adoptive parents navigate the laws of other states in interstate adoptions.
- Infant Adoptions: Infant adoptions are often completed without the use of an adoption agency. Instead, a birth mother and an adoptive parent or parents work with adoption attorneys to ensure that the process is legal and that the rights of the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child are maintained.
- Foster Child Adoptions: While adopting a child out of foster care is considered a public adoption, hiring a private adoption lawyer to assist in the process is a wise idea. An accomplished adoption lawyer can assist in representing foster parents’ positions at case conferences, appeals hearings, and court appearances.
Anita K. Cutrer, Attorney at Law, is a board-certified family law specialist who has assisted Tarrant County families with adoptions for over 20 years. Let her help you grow your family.
Contact our law office today for a free consultation at (817) 813-8513.