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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.
Formal termination proceedings are not required if the parent whose rights are to be terminated signs an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights containing a consent for the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or a licensed child-placing agency to place the child for adoption and appointing the department or agency managing conservator of the child.
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.