The updated laws for adoption laws in Texas may be found in chapter 162 of the Texas family code. However, as you might suspect, the official sites providing accurate date information about this issue are very unhelpful due to their complexity. Below is just a snapshot of the first six subsections of the chapter on adoption:
Who May Be Adopted
We’ll split apart the first section of the official family code and cover “who may be adopted” first. An early reminder that despite the rules and criteria that a potential adopter must meet to be able to adopt must follow, the child hoping to be adopted must be eligible to be adopted. One might not like how another child is treated or thinks they could provide a better life for a child, but only certain children are eligible for adoption.
Four conditions make a child adoptable legally, and the first two apply to all children, and the second two (see points three and four) are when a child is 2 years of age or older.
Conditions for All Children
(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;
When Child is 2 Years of Age or Older
The following conditions apply to any child who is two years of age or older.
(3) 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;
(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.
Process To Adopt
There are three major steps to becoming either a foster or adoptive parent in the Lonestar state. These three steps are outlined in the state’s adoption resource exchange but we’ll go through them here as well.
Mandatory Informational Meeting
Before anything happens, you need to attend a mandatory meeting where you find out the information about whether you can adopt. The meeting is free to attend and you do not need a reservation nor are you required to notify anyone about attending. The meeting is for Texas residents only and you can find out about where you can find a meeting in your area here.
Selection By DFPS Staff
Whether or not you meet the following requirements (below) and the Department of family services believes you are capable of adopting you’ll be move on to the next step. Let’s first outline the basic requirements for fostering a child in the state of Texas.
- You have to be at least 21 years of age.
- You need to be able to financially support yourself and be considered financially stable.
- You must be deemed to be ‘responsible mature adult’ in the eyes of DFPS staff.
- All parties must be willing to share information about ones background and lifestyle. Here the DFPS staff can be fairly invasive about your background. Remember this all voluntary, you do not have to adopt a child.
- All parties must provide references both references that are relatives and those that are not.
- You’ll need to show proof of marriage.
- At this point you’ll also need to opt-in to a “home study” which will require at home meetings with everyone that lives in the household.
- Finally you’ll need to attend a free training that will cover details concerning abused and neglected children.
Even if you can meet all of these requirements, you’ll also have to convince DFPS staff that you are more competent to care for a child. It will be at the discretion of DFPS that you can move forward.
Education About Eligible Children
You will attend training (PRIDE) to learn more about the children available through DFPS and to assess your strengths in parenting children. The classes also boost your knowledge and confidence to meet the challenge of taking children into your home and to be sure you are ready to follow through on the commitment.
Further Training Requirements
Texas has a minimum requirement when it comes to the training that a foster family must attain before officially overseeing the protection of a child in the state (it should be noted, these are much stronger than any individual family must acquire). However don’t fret, these training are fairly straightforward and mostly common sense.
Universal precautions training: Universal precautions training is a type of safety training that educates you on diseases that are carried in the bloodstream and how to take precautions to avoid infection. For more information on universal precautions, see this detailed page via the Texas Department of Justice.
Psychotropic medication training: The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) requires that prospective foster parents take this entire training and receive at least a grade of 70% on the post-test. Psychotropic medications deal with the administering of drugs such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications that a potential foster child may receive. See the Psychotropic Medication Training page on the Texas.gov site for more information.
Certification in both First Aid and infant/child/adult CPR: Perhaps the most straightforward, prospective parents must receive certification in BOTH first aid and CPR from a certified training center. The American Red Cross offers a list of places you can take this class but check with the .gov site to make sure the center is approved.
Cost to Adopt in Texas
Numerous articles have been written about the low cost to adopt a child in the state of Texas. Adoption can be as low as $300-$400. This is not counting your and your spouse’s time to complete the process which, as we’ve discussed above, can be extensive.
If you’ve heard quotes of it costing $25,000 or more to adopt a child in the state, that is most likely a product of someone using a private adoption service. Private adoption services handle much of the labor for you but can escalate the price more than 10-20x the cost of the actual fee to adopt.
LGBT couples seeking to adopt do not worry, adoptions are legal in the state of Texas for all couples. However, there are a few annoyances and prejudices that might complicate the process. LGBT couples must prove to a court that they are capable of caring and providing for the child (particularly financially). Before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, Texas couples had to file for adoption as “two single people jointly adopting.”