If you are thinking about starting the adoption process in Texas — either as a pregnant woman considering adoption for your baby or as a hopeful parent looking to adopt a child — you likely have questions about adoption laws, rules and qualifications in the Lone Star State. The following Texas adoption information can help answer important adoption questions for women and couples living in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth or anywhere else in Texas.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Texas
Each state has different laws regarding who can adopt and how they can adopt. The following guidelines provide important information about the adoption process, laws and qualifications for prospective adoptive parents in Texas.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Texas?
Any adult may be eligible to adopt in Texas. See “Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Texas” for more information about the home study, criminal background checks and training required for adoptive parents.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Texas?
Every state regulates the expenses that can be paid by adoptive parents during the adoption process. In Texas, adoptive parents are permitted to pay the following:
- Birth parent expenses, including:
- Fees paid to an attorney, social worker, mental health professional or physician for legal, medical or counseling services
- Reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the child
- Necessary pregnancy-related expenses paid by a child-placing agency during the pregnancy or after the birth of the child
- Fees charged by a licensed child-placing agency for services provided
- The costs of a social study in an adoption study
In accordance with Texas law, no person can offer or accept payment of money or anything of value in exchange for relinquishing a child for adoption.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Texas?
The requirements to become a foster parent in Texas include:
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Complete an application
- Complete a home study and background checks and provide references
- Attend training
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Texas?
Texas will recognize foreign adoption decrees that have been issued in compliance with the laws of the United States and the country that granted the adoption. Texas offers readoption or validation as an option, but it is not a requirement. Readoption or validation protects the adoption from a legal challenge in state court and ensures the child’s ability to inherit from adoptive parents. It also allows the adopted child to obtain a U.S. birth certificate. Adoptive parents will be required to submit readoption or validation documentation to request a Texas birth certificate for the adopted child.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Texas?
Texas law prohibits advertising by any person or entity other than the state social services department or a licensed child-placing agency.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Texas
If you are considering adoption for your child, you likely have several questions about the rules and regulations of placing a baby for adoption in Texas. The following will help answer some of your questions about Texas adoption laws.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
The waiting period before consent can be executed in Texas is 48 hours after birth. Birth fathers are allowed to execute consent at any time before or after the child’s birth. Consent must be given by the parent whose parental rights are to be relinquished, signed by two witnesses and verified before a person authorized to take oaths.
Can minors consent to adoption in Texas?
Minor parents can consent to adoption in Texas. Their consent must be signed by two witnesses and verified before a person authorized to take oaths.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In Texas, a managing conservator — or the legal parent or guardian — must file written consent to the adoption. In a stepparent adoption, the parent must join the stepparent in the petition for adoption, but further consent of that parent is not required.
In an older child adoption, the child must consent to the adoption if he or she is 12 or older unless the court finds it in the child’s best interests to waive consent.
(See “What rights does the father of the baby have in Texas adoptions?” for more information about when parental consent may not be necessary.)
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable? If a birth parent revokes consent, is the child automatically returned to the birth parent?
The birth parent is allowed to withdraw consent within 10 days. After 10 days of executing consent, it becomes irrevocable unless there is evidence that consent was obtained through fraud or duress.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Texas adoptions?
In Texas, a many may be presumed to be a child’s father, and therefore has parental rights, if:
- He is or was married to the child’s mother and the child is/was born during the marriage or within 300 days of the end of the marriage
- He and the child’s mother attempted to legally marry each other before the child’s birth, but the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage or cohabitation ended
- He has acknowledged his paternity of the child in writing
- He gives consent to be named as the child’s father on the birth certificate
- He makes a written voluntary promise of support or is ordered to support the child by a court
- During the first two years of the child’s life, he continuously resided with the child and openly claimed the child as his own
Texas has established a paternity registry for fathers to voluntarily acknowledge paternity or the possibility of paternity of a child born outside of marriage. A man who desires to be notified of adoption proceedings or the termination of parental rights may register with the registry of paternity before the child’s birth or within 30 days of the child being born.
A man is entitled to receive notice of an adoption proceeding regardless of whether he registers with the paternity registry if:
- A father-child relationship has been established between the man and the child according to law
- The man commences a proceeding to declare his paternity before the court has terminated his parental rights
The father’s consent is not required in an adoption when:
- He is unable to care for the child due to mental illness
- He has voluntarily terminated parental rights
- He has no right of consent after an abortion when the child survives
- He is convicted of a crime resulting in the birth of a child
- His rights have been terminated on the grounds of abandonment, nonsupport, endangerment, abuse or neglect
These guidelines apply to any parent, when applicable.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Texas
Before you will be eligible to adopt or foster in Texas, you must complete a pre-placement and post-placement home study. The home study is an assessment of prospective parents that evaluates your ability to provide a stable, nurturing home to a child.
What is included in the Texas home study process?
Every home study in Texas consists of these basic elements:
- Personal interviews with each adopting parent and each adoptive child who is at least age 4
- Observation of each adoptive child, regardless of age
- Gathering information from relevant sources
- Evaluation of the home
- Fingerprint-based criminal history record information that was obtained within the past year
- A name-based criminal history check and central registry check must be requested for every resident of the home age 14 or older
- Fingerprint-based criminal history checks must be requested for both adopting parents and any resident of the home age 18 or older
The home must meet basic cleanliness and safety requirements, pets must be vaccinated and treated by a veterinarian and plans must be in place to ensure the child’s safety if the home has a swimming pool, hot tub or other body of water on the premises.
Who is included in the Texas home study process?
All household members, regardless of age, must be included in the home study.
Who will conduct the home study?
In Texas, the social study may be conducted by a private entity, a person appointed by the court, a domestic relations office, or a state agency. Each individual who conducts a home study must be legally qualified.
What are the qualifications to complete a home study?
All adoptive home study applicants must be:
- At least 21 years old
- Financially able to provide for their family and the adopted child
- Healthy enough to assume parenting responsibilities
- Able to accept and parent an adoptive child
- Willing to respect and encourage the adopted child’s religious affiliation, if any
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Texas?
In Texas, the home study may not be approved if the person has committed the following:
- Offenses against the family
- Public indecency
- Criminal solicitation of a minor
- Failure to stop or report aggravated sexual assault of a child
- Any violations of the Texas Controlled Substance Act within the past 10 years
- Making firearms accessible to a child in the past 10 years
- Intoxication and alcoholic beverage offenses in the past 10 years
- Any other felony committed within the past 10 years
Approval may also be denied if the home study reveals any sustained finding of child abuse or neglect, including sexual, physical or emotional abuse, physical or medical neglect or neglectful supervision.
When should the home study be completed? When must the home study be renewed?
The home study must be completed annually and after any major change in the adoptive family.
What is a post-placement study in the adoption process? What are the post-placement study requirements for Texas?
The post-placement study is a written report of the adjustment of the adopted child and adoptive family to the placement. The post-placement visit will include individual interviews with each adoptive parent, each child age 3 or older and any other person living with the family, as well as a joint interview with the adoptive parents and a family group interview with all family members. The interviews will be conducted after the child has been in the adoptive parents’ care for at least five months. All members of the household must be present during the caseworker’s visit.
The post-placement report must include:
- A summary of the child’s health, social, education, genetic and family histories
- A history of the physical, sexual or emotional abuse experienced by the child
- Information about any previous placements
- The child’s legal status and understanding of adoptive placement
- A summary of the adoptive home screening, including results of the criminal history and abuse registry checks
- Strengths and weaknesses of the adoptive parents
- Observations of the family’s interactions
- A summary of interviews and home visits
- An evaluation of the child’s needs and whether those needs will be met in the home environment
- A summary of the family and child’s adjustment during the post-placement period
What are the home study requirements to adopt a child from another state?
Any placement of a child outside of Texas is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), an agreement between all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands that regulates interstate adoption placements. The child will not be sent to the adoptive parents’ state until that state’s authorities have notified the child-placing agency, in writing, that the placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.
What are the pre-placement requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
To adopt a child currently in the family’s care, applicants must be approved as a foster-adoptive home. The family must follow all rules for verifying a foster family home and for approving an adoptive home. The foster and adoptive home stud may be combined into one screening report as long as all requirements are covered.
When a child is unavailable for adoption has been placed into a home that has been approved both as a foster home and an adoptive home, and when the placement is intended to change from foster care to adoption when the child becomes eligible, this is known as a “legal risk placement.”
For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt placements, visit the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
To begin the home study process, contact a trusted local home study provider:
- American Adoptions of Texas
American Adoptions of Texas provides home study and post-placement supervision services throughout the state.
- Adoption Answers, Inc.
Adoption Answers, Inc. provides domestic and international home studies for adoptive parents in the state of Texas.
- Children’s Connections, Inc.
Children’s Connections, Inc. is a nonprofit organization preparing qualified home studies and reports for all types of adoptions throughout Texas.
- S.A.F.E. Project
S.A.F.E. Project (Supportive Assistance for Family Enhancement Project, LLC) has offices in Houston and Austin with a network of more than 125 professionals providing home assessment services.
- Adoption Choices of Texas
Adoption Choices of Texas is a full-service licensed Texas agency with expertise in domestic and international home studies.
- Legacy Adoption Services
Legacy Adoption Services is a full-service licensed child-placing agency that provides domestic home studies for adoptive parents in Texas.
Visit 1800HomeStudy.com to learn more about Texas home study providers.
Texas Adoption Professionals
When you are ready to begin your adoption journey, your adoption professional can help guide you through the process. These licensed professionals are experienced in completing local adoptions and can help ensure that you meet all Texas legal and home study requirements:
- American Adoptions
- Gladney Center for Adoption
- New Life Adoptions
- Alliance for Children, Inc.
- Legacy Adoptions and Surrogacy
For more information about foster care in Texas, visit:
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
- Foster in Texas
- Pathways Youth and Family Services
Things to do in Texas
Between visits with prospective birth parents and waiting for ICPC clearances, you may find yourself in the Lone Star State at some point in your adoption journey. Here are a few fun ways to spend your time in Texas:
- San Antonio River Walk
- Alamo Mission (San Antonio)
- State Capitol (Austin)
- Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
- USS Lexington (Corpus Christi)
- Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth)
- Big Bend National Park (Alpine)
For more information about traveling to Texas, visit www.traveltex.com.