Adoption: helping grow families across Texas

Every year, thousands of families throughout the great state of Texas grow in size thanks to the highly adaptable yet surprisingly complex process of adoption. There are many different types of adoptions, including state adoptions, interstate adoptions and even international adoptions, adoptions by relatives and private adoptions by strangers. There are agency adoptions and independent adoptions of infants, toddlers or foster children.

With the various methods and different processes available to families interested in adoption (both birth families and prospective families) it can be helpful to have some familiarity with the terminology and organizations involved in the process.

Types of adoptions

Oftentimes, when people think of the word "adoption," they envision an infant being passed directly from the birth mother to the adoptive family. That image is an accurate one for many adoptions, but they do not all involve newborns.

In many "blended family" marriages, step-parents can adopt their stepchildren of any age provided the child's other biological parent (the one outside the marriage) has his or her parental rights terminated.

Children in the foster system - whether in Texas or other states around the country - can be adopted at any age between infancy and age 17.

If circumstances dictate, grandparents can legally adopt their grandchildren. This practice has been growing in popularity in recent years as the numbers of grandparents raising their grandchildren has steadily increased. Formally adopting the children gives grandparents additional legal protections and rights that might be in jeopardy without taking that extra step.

It might be possible for adults to be adopted as well, something that could, for example, give a vulnerable or special needs loved one a more permanent guardian and caregiver.

Nuances between different types of adoptions

Regardless of the age of the adoptee, there are differences in how adoptions are handled. The process can vary greatly depending not only on the child being adopted and the family or individual adopting, but also on who facilitates the adoption.

For example, state adoptions through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (or its Children in Need of Protective Services division), like those facilitated by the Texas Adoption Resources Exchange (TARE) program or the Adoption Coalition of Texas (ACT) are different than those that are handled by private adoption agencies or independent adoption brokers.

There are also differences in how adoptions where the birth mother (or birth parents, if both are involved in the decision-making process) and prospective family communicate prior to the adoption versus those where privacy is protected. Some adoption arrangements might allow for the birth parents to play a part in the lives of their adopted children, while others might specifically prevent contact until the child reaches a certain age (or not at all).

Seeking help for your adoption journey

Adoption not only builds families, it helps countless prospective parents realize their dreams. With so much on the line, though, there is no room for error in the process, and it can be surprisingly complex, especially for people not familiar with the legal system. If you want to enrich your life by adopting a child, seek the advice of an experienced Texas family law attorney in your area with the skills and knowledge necessary to guide you through the adoption process.