Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices
“Train up a child in
the way he should go
and when he is old,
he will not depart
from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

Who can adopt?

One way in which Texas couples can complete their families is to adopt a child. Adopting a child means becoming the formal guardian of another person and taking over the rights and responsibilities that come along with it. In addition to the legal relationship that this process creates, it provides parents an amazing opportunity to care for and nurture a child and give the child all the support that they need as they grow up.

Before beginning the formal process of adoption, Texas couples need to determine if they are eligible to adopt in the first place. Since there is no constitutional right to adopt, states are free to create their own adoption statutes. Most states have modeled their statutes on the Uniform Adoption Act, which allows people to adopt as long as the adoptive parent has reached adulthood.

States vary on the criteria disqualifying some people from adopting, which may include unmarried or single people or people who are suffering from mental or physical disabilities. Some states also impose a reputability requirement, meaning that someone with a criminal history or unstable employment history is not able to adopt someone.

Courts must first find the potential adoptive parent 'acceptable'. In order to do this, the court relies on an investigative report submitted by the state agency. The investigative report covers in detail the person's religious background, moral fitness, mental and physical health and criminal background, among other factors. Once these factors are weighed, the agency gives a recommendation as to whether that person is acceptable or not. Thereafter, the court can determine if it wants to accept that recommendation, based on the best interests of the child.

Going through the legal process may seem daunting to Texas couples, but at the end of the day, the court is interested in protecting a child's best interests, as are future adoptive parents. An attorney experienced in the adoption process may be able to guide Texans through the process as they begin their journey to complete their family.

Source: Legal Information Institution, http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/adoption, accessed Feb. 3, 2015

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