Adoptions are significant milestones for families, both for the adults adopting the child and the child being adopted. Adopting a relative who needs a new home can be even more emotional. That’s why it’s crucial to work with an experienced adoption attorney to ensure the process, which can be complex, goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. Read on to learn more.
Why Would Someone Want to Adopt a Relative?
There are many reasons someone would adopt another family member in the process sometimes known as “kinship adoption.” Suppose the parents have been deemed unfit by the courts (for addiction, history of criminal activity, etc.), have passed away without naming a guardian in a will, or are in prison. In that case, other family members may want to step in and care for the child.
However, caring for that child can be problematic without fully adopting the child. Without a legal parental relationship, the caretakers will have difficulty getting medical care for the child (including having the child listed as a dependent on their health insurance) or enrolling them in school. The caretakers can’t easily have access to any medical or educational records they need to fully understand and continue to care for the child.
Beyond practical matters, adoption also provides a sense of a grounded home and family life for both adopters and adoptees.
What Is Required to Adopt a Relative in Texas?
Texas courts have several requirements for families that want to adopt a child. It can be beneficial to have an experienced adoption attorney guiding you through the process to avoid errors that could slow or stall the adoption.
- The adopter must be at least 21 years old.
- All adults living in the adoptive home must submit to and pass criminal background and child abuse checks.
- They must demonstrate reasonable stability and maturity, and demonstrate that they’re financially capable of caring for the child.
- They must provide proof of marriage and divorce, if applicable.
- They must share information about their backgrounds and lifestyles as well as references.
- Adults don’t need to be married to adopt, but both adults must be part of the adoption if they are married.
If a stepchild is being adopted, the biological parent must be married to the step-parent, and the child must live with them for at least six months before the adoption can be finalized. The other biological parent must either surrender their parental rights voluntarily, or the court must terminate those rights. That can happen if the other biological parent is found to be unfit or has abandoned the child. In Texas, only two people can legally have parental rights for one child.
What Is the Process to Adopt a Relative in Texas?
There are several steps in the adoption process.
Termination of the Biological Parents’ Parental Rights
This doesn’t apply if the biological parents are no longer living. If they are, the courts need to terminate their parental rights before reassigning them to the adoptive parents.
Complete a Home Study
Even if the child is already living with the family member that wants to adopt them, the family member still needs to go through a home study. This study, which can cost up to $1,500, is designed to ensure the adoptive parents understand what they’re taking on in adopting a child and are emotionally, financially, and physically capable of doing so.
If the biological parent(s) contest the termination of their parental rights, there may be multiple court hearings to resolve that issue before the adoption can go forward. If they don’t contest losing their parental rights, there may only be one hearing in which the court finalizes the adoption.
Does the Child Have Any Say in the Adoption in Texas?
If the child is 12 or older, Texas requires them to consent to the adoption. However, the court can overrule the child’s wishes if it finds the adoption to be in the best interests of the child.
Can an Adult Be Adopted in Texas?
Yes. There are cases when older adults will adopt younger adults, even if they’re legally of age. One of the main reasons to do so is for estate planning. It makes it easier for the inheritor to receive their inheritance if they’re a legal family member.
Unlike a child adoption, the adoption of an adult can be requested by either the prospective adoptive parents or by the adult who wants to be adopted. This also doesn’t require the termination of the biological parent’s parental rights, as the adult adoptee has the legal right to request or consent to the change.
Like a child adoption, there needs to be a court hearing to finalize the adoption. At that hearing, the adoptee becomes eligible to inherit from the adoptive parents (but may lose the rights to inherit from the biological parents) and is eligible to change their legal name if they wish. It’s important to understand that an adult adoption does not affect immigration rights.
What Should I Do if I Want to Adopt a Relative?
Call the Cutrer Law Group at 817-813-8513 for a free case evaluation. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable adoption attorneys will guide you through the often-complicated process of adopting a relative. We know it’s an emotional time for you, and we’re here to help things go as smoothly as possible while you take the incredible step of providing a stable home for your family member.