adopting a child in texas

Two Perspectives on Adopting A Child in Texas

Whether or not you are deciding to place your child for adoption in Texas or hoping to adopt a child from Texas, you are not alone. Between September 1, 2018, and August 30, 2019, there were 6,000 children adopted in Texas. We will walk through the adoption process for both the expectant parent and hopeful adoptive family. 

Making Your Decision

Expectant Parent

If you have found yourself in an unplanned pregnancy or in a situation where you might place your child for adoption, it is important to think over your options carefully. You ultimately have three options to choose from. You can choose to parent, terminate the pregnancy, or place your child for adoption. 

If you choose to parent, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself. 

  • What are my feelings about being a parent and taking care of another person?
  • Does becoming a parent feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
  • Am I ready to take care of all my child’s needs?
  • Am I ready to love a child now?
  • Am I ready to have less time for myself, more stress, and deal with the money needed to support a child?
  • What would it mean for my future if I have a child now?
  • Do I have support from my family and friends?

Texas is home to the Gladney Center for Adoption. Gladney supports expectant families through the entire adoption process, including deciding whether or not to place a child for adoption. They walk you through making your decision with the following process.

  • You will talk with an Options Counselor about your immediate needs and how they can immediately meet those needs.
  • You will be assigned a compassionate counselor who will work with you to help you determine the best possible scenario for your future and your child’s future.
  • You will have the opportunity to learn all you can about adoption. You can speak with birth mothers who have made adoption plans for their children.
  • Your counselor will provide profiles of families that have been screened carefully by Gladney that match what you are looking for in a family for your child. Many of the families have created online profiles for you to view.
  • Your counselor and other Gladney staff will assist with making your adoption plan personalized just for you, and you will continue to receive counseling and post-adoption services. 

If you are considering placing your child for adoption. Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself.

  • What are my feelings about adoption and another person being my baby’s parent?
  • Does adoption feel like what is best for me at this time in my life?
  • Can I go through pregnancy and birth then give my baby to someone else?
  • Will I be able to cope with the feeling of loss that I may have after the pregnancy is over?
  • Is anyone pressuring me to choose adoption?
  • Do I have support from my family and friends?

Remember that you know what is best for your situation and your child. When you work with a strong adoption agency like Gladney Center for Adoption, they will be by your side as you make your decision. 

Hopeful Adoptive Family

There are many different reasons why people decide to adopt. Some feel it is a calling from God or a higher power, some families have struggled with infertility, and some just know that adoption is how they want to grow their family. Whatever your motivation to adopt, it’s important to think through a few things before you start the adoption process.

  • What is your motivation to adopt?
  • What type of adoption do you want to pursue (domestic, adoption through foster care, international)?
  • How much money do you have to spend on adoption?
  • Is your family and community of friends supportive of your decision to adopt?
  • Are you interested in a closed, semi-open, or open adoption?
  • What type of child are you hoping to adopt (age, gender, race, disability, etc.)?
  • Will you be able to handle the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies the adoption process?

Preparing for Baby and the Home Study Process

Expectant Parent

When you are placing your child for adoption, you will not need to complete a home study. However, the family that you choose to adopt your child will have to have a completed home study to legally adopt. If a family has an approved home study, you can feel confident that they’ve met the minimum requirements to adopt and to provide a comfortable life for a child. To learn more about the home study process for hopeful adoptive families in Texas, read below.

Hopeful Adoptive Family

If you are adopting a child in Texas, you will need to have a completed home study. If working with an agency, they will walk you through the process. If you are adopting independently, you will need to work with a licensed social worker to complete your home study.

The home study is essentially an all-inclusive write up-of your family. It includes just about anything you can think of. Your caseworker will work with you to ensure that you have the proper documents and information collected before your home visit. You will need: 

  • Proof of citizenship and identification 
  • Marriage license/divorce documentation (if applicable)
  • Medical history 
  • Proof of income (tax return, pay stub, etc.)References
  • Background check

To adopt in Texas, you can be single or married, must be at least 21 years old, and financially stable. If you meet the basic requirements, your caseworker will schedule a time to visit your home and meet with you. They will look around your house to make sure it is clean, safe, and has enough space for a new child. They will sit down with each person living in the home and with everyone as a group to learn more about you. They will want to learn about your childhood, education, career, personal setbacks, family values, parenting style, and talk about your preference for a child. They will collect all of your documents and information and compile it into an all-inclusive report that can be sent to different agencies and adoption professionals. The home study can be one of the most intimidating parts of the adoption process, but it shouldn’t be. The caseworker is there to learn more about your family, not to judge you. 

Types of Adoption

Expectant Parent

If you are living in Texas and making the choice to place your child for adoption, you will be working through a domestic adoption process. Find an adoption agency and/or attorney that specializes in domestic adoptions. 

When you place your child for adoption, you can choose how open your adoption will be. There are three degrees of openness to choose from. You will ultimately decide how open you want your adoption and agree on this with the adoptive family.

  • Closed adoption is when the birth parent(s) choose(s) to have no contact with their child and the child’s adoptive family after the adoption is finalized. Some parents choose this option for the safety of the child, to get a fresh start, or because they feel most comfortable with this decision.
  • A semi-open adoption is a happy medium between a closed and open adoption. Birth parent(s) maintain contact with their child through pictures and e-mail updates. These updates are not super frequent.
  • Open adoption is as open as you and the adoptive family agree on. Some people do regular visits, send pictures, talk on the phone, send e-mails, and share special events. 

Hopeful Adoptive Family

If you are adopting a child in Texas, there are different forms of adoption to choose from. You can adopt domestically, through foster care, or internationally.

If you are adopting domestically, you can either work with an agency or adopt independently. Adopting independently is when the adoptive family and expectant family connect on their own without the help of an agency. These connections can be made through mutual friends, professionals (doctors, attorneys, etc.), or through a parent profile. You can create a parent profile on Adoption.com to share pictures and information about your family. Doing an independent adoption can be tricky. You will be responsible for finding a caseworker to complete your home study, communicating with the expecting family, and hiring an adoption attorney. Those who adopt independently generally spend less on their adoption that those that work through an agency.

The advantages of working with an agency are that they do all of the work for you, provide much-needed support for you and the expecting family, and can answer all of your questions. They also have more access to connections to help you find a match. When you are working with Gladney Center for Adoption on domestic infant adoption, you get a lot of support which includes:

  • flexibility in the adoption process
  • assistance in developing a family profile
  • guidance from experienced staff
  • experienced and respected legal staff
  • membership in a parent support group
  • parenting education
  • confidentiality, unless both parties agree to more openness

If you are interested in adopting through foster care, you will need a home study, but it will be specific for foster care. To adopt through foster care, you must first be a foster parent. Children are placed into foster care to receive temporary housing while their parents work services to be reunited with their children. The goal of foster care is to reunite parents and children. If a parent isn’t able to meet the requirements of his/her service plan, parental rights are terminated. The child is then available for adoption.

Children that are available for adoption through the foster care system are considered waiting children. Waiting children are generally older, part of a sibling group, and/or have a disability. These children are available to be adopted and are waiting for their forever family. They are currently living in a foster home that is not permanent. If you choose to pursue adoption, you will foster the child for at least 6 months before the adoption is finalized. 

To become a foster parent in Texas, you must meet the following criteria:

  • be married/or single
  • be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible and mature
  • information regarding background and lifestyle
  • provide relative and non-relative references
  • show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)
  • agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members
  • allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household
  • attend free training to learn about issues of abused and neglected children
  • have adequate sleeping space
  • agree to a nonphysical discipline policy
  • permit fire, health and safety inspections of the home
  • vaccinate all pets
  • obtain and maintain CPR/first aid certification
  • obtain TB testing as required by the local health department for household members
  • attend 20 hours or more of training each year

You can work with the Department of Family Protective Services to become a licensed foster parent.

Finances

Expectant Parent

When you are placing your child for adoption, there are many resources available to provide housing, assistance with food, and other support paying your bills. The Gladney Center for Adoption will help you meet your basic needs to ensure that you and your child are safe and healthy. Placing a child for adoption does not cost any money. 

Hopeful Adoptive Family

When you are adopting a child in Texas, the process can be pretty expensive. However, there are ways to afford adoption that won’t put you into a ton of debt. First, there are low to no interest loans available. You have to apply and be approved, but if you qualify for an adoption loan, you can pay all of your needed fees at once. You can also apply for adoption grants, which can relieve a lot of financial stress. Grants do not have to be paid back. A lot of families put together different fundraising activities to raise the needed funds. A community garage sale, silent auction, walk-a-thon, and t-shirt sales are just a few ideas to raise money for adoption. Finally, a lot of families take a look at their monthly budget and find ways to save a little here and there. Going without a few luxuries to grow your family is definitely worth it.

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Michelle Donner