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Adoption – The Texas Family Code provides that any adult with standing (the right to come before the court and seek redress) may petition to adopt a child who is subject to adoption. A child is subject to adopt if:
- he is a resident of the state of Texas;
- the parental rights of each parent of the child have been terminated or a suit for termination of parental rights has been filed contemporaneously with the petition for adoption;
- the parent who's rights have not been terminated is the spouse of the petitioner and the petition is for stepparent adoption; in cases of stepparent adoption, the petitioner's spouse (the biological parent) must join in the suit;
- the child is at least two years old, 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 non-terminated parent consents to the adoption; or
- 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.
Any person seeking to adopt a child must provide the court with an official criminal history report. However, the court may not consider the prospective adoptive parents' membership in any branch of the armed services nor may the court consider the race or ethnicity of the child or that of the prospective adoptive parents. Texas law does allow a court to consider race and ethnicity in proceedings effecting a child subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
Texas law prohibits a court from granting a petition for adoption if the child has not resided with the petitioner for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition. A court may waive this requirement if it deems doing so is in the best interests of the child.
Unless the managing conservator of the child is the petitioner, the consent of the managing conservator is required before a court will grant a petition of adoption. If the managing conservator refuses to consent to the adoption, the court is required to hold a hearing. If, after hearing the testimony of the parties, the court determines that consent is being withheld or has been revoked without good cause, it has the discretion to waive the consent requirement.
A child who is twelve years of age or older must consent to the adoption in writing. However, if the court believes it is in the child's best interest to do so, it may waive this requirement.
Any consent, whether given by the managing conservator, the child, or the parent may be revoked at any time before the final order of adoption is entered. A revocation is effectuated by filing a signed revocation with the court.
An order of adoption creates a parent-child relationship between the adoptive parent and the child and confers on the child all the same rights as the biological children of the adoptive parent. This means that an adopted child may inherit from his adoptive parents.
Termination of Parental Rights – Texas law provides for the involuntary termination of parental rights where the courts finds that termination is in the best interests of the child and the parent:
- voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
- voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least three months;
- voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another for at least six months without providing adequate support for the child;
- knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
- engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
- failed to support the child in accordance with the parent's ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;
- abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child's identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;
- voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the child during her pregnancy with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;
- has willfully and stubbornly refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court to support the child;
- has been the major cause of the child's failure to attend school as required by Texas law;
- has been the major cause of the child's absence from home without parental consent for a substantial period of time or the child's intent not to return;
- executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights;
- has been convicted of or placed on community supervision as a result of being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury to a child or for engaging in conduct which caused the death or serious injury of a child pursuant to the penal codes for murder, capital murder, manslaughter, indecency with a child, assault, sexual assault, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual, abandoning or endangering a child, prohibited sexual conduct, sexual performance by a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, or the continuous sexual assault of a child or children;
- had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child as a result of having knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child or as a result of having engaged in conduct or knowingly having placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child, or for violations of substantially equivalent provisions of the laws of another state;
- constructively abandoned the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or an authorized agency for not less than six months;
- failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of a child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child's removal from the parent for the abuse or neglect of the child;
- used a controlled substance, as defined under Texas law, in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child, and failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program or after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program, continued to abuse a controlled substance;
- knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the parent's conviction of an offense and confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;
- been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription;
- voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency infant care provider without expressing an intent to return for the child; or
- been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child under Texas law or under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of murder under Texas law.
Other grounds for termination of parental rights include the voluntary termination of parental rights, the mental or emotional illness or mental deficiency of a parent which renders the parent unable to care for the child and which in all likelihood will continue through the child's 18th birthday, the live birth of the child as a result of an abortion, and the pregnancy resulted from a criminal act.
Except for petitions involving abortion, if the court determines that termination is in the best interests of the child, as long as all other statutory requirements have been met, the petition for termination will be granted.
Call the Austin Adoption Lawyers at the Law Office of Willie & Dasher today or fill out the contact form on this page. 512-478-0834.
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