November is National Adoption Month, which raises awareness of the urgent need for adoptive families for children in the foster care system. If you are considering adoption, you have several options to choose from in the Lone Star State.
During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, nearly 4,600 adoptions occurred while about 3,000 other children await their “forever homes,” according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
Options for adoptive parents
As long as you are a responsible adult (age 21 or older) and meet some basic requirements, you are eligible to adopt a child in Texas. Here are some ways to become an adoptive parent:
- Private: Also known as an “independent adoption,” this method establishes direct placement between the adoptive parent or parents and the birth mother.
- International: “Intercountry” adoptions are largely complex immigration cases. While they may take longer and cost more, they remain a popular and rewarding option for starting or growing your family.
- Foster care: Children up to 17 years old in the foster care system long for a loving and stable home. For these children to be eligible, the parental rights of birth parents must be terminated. These adoptions usually happen faster, cost less and financial incentives from the state are possible.
- Stepparent: You can petition to adopt a stepchild under 18 as long as your spouse cosigns the petition, and the other biological parent terminates their parental rights, or you have independent legal grounds to terminate parental rights.
Adoptions can be “open” or “closed.” Closed means no contact between birth parents and adoptive parents, which was the standard way decades ago. However, most adoptions today are open, meaning both parties meet and may even keep in touch throughout the child’s lifetime.
Be prepared for a worthwhile journey
Adoption is an emotional and life-changing event, and it can also be a complicated and sometimes frustrating process. However, getting advice early on from those with extensive experience in these cases can demystify the steps and help you enjoy one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.