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10 Questions You Have About Texas Adoption Laws

Many would-be parents have asked, “What are the restrictions for adopting a child in Texas?” All states, Texas included, have their own set of requirements that adoptive parents must meet, in addition to the requirements established by your adoption professional. Those requirements can vary somewhat based on the type of adoption, as well. There are also important Texas child adoption laws that affect prospective birth parents, as well as the children at the heart of adoption.

The adoption statutes in Texas outline who may adopt, place a child for adoption, or be adopted within the state, as well as what that process looks like. These can be surprisingly tricky to navigate.

We’ve made things a little easier by outlining all the Texas laws regarding adoption that you should know below. Keep in mind that Texas adoption laws are subject to change, and nothing you read here should be considered legal advice. It is always recommended that you work with an experienced adoption attorney for the most accurate information about adoption laws in Texas and how they may apply to your adoption.

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know in order to have a secure, ethical and legal adoption in Texas:

Texas Adoption Laws: Working with an Attorney

The adoption policies in Texas, as in all states, are meant to protect everyone involved. Failure to adhere to Texas state adoption laws could put the legality of your adoption in jeopardy, and could even result in legal ramifications. For this reason (and for many more), it’s imperative that you work with an experienced, licensed attorney in order to complete your adoption in accordance with all laws and adoption restrictions in Texas.

Adoption is not something that you can D.I.Y.! You’ll need a reputable adoption attorney. Here are some of the top Texas attorneys who can help you complete the legal processes of your adoption:

Understanding the Laws on Adoption in Texas

Pregnant prospective birth parents and hopeful adoptive parents alike have asked, “What are the adoption laws in Texas?”

We’ve got a basic overview of the most important laws you need to know right here. The following are the 10 most common questions about Texas adoption restrictions and regulations, so you can find the answer to your own question:

1. Who can adopt in Texas?

Any adult, provided they meet the requirements.

There is no established age minimum or limit for adoptive parents in Texas statutes, but your individual adoption professional will likely have their own age requirements to adopt in Texas.

You do not have to be married to adopt in Texas. But, if you are married, you must adopt with your spouse. This also applies to anyone who is separated but not legally divorced from their spouse, as well as anyone who wishes to adopt their spouse’s child through a stepparent adoption.

All potential adoptive parents must be approved by a Texas adoption home study. This pre-adoptive process includes criminal background checks, home visits, interviews and more.

Although adoption laws in Texas allow most adults to adopt, you will still need to meet the individual adoption requirements of the professional you work with, as well as the requirements for the type of adoption you pursue, whether that’s international, domestic, or foster care adoption. You can learn more about Texas adoption requirements here.

2. Who can be adopted in Texas?

Any minor whose previous parents have had their parental rights terminated, voluntarily or involuntarily by the court, may be eligible for adoption. Children over the age of 12 must give consent to being adopted.

Adults may also be adopted. They must either give their consent to the adoption, or they must be deemed as unable to provide consent due to medical or mental disability, and the court must rule that the adoption is within the best interest of that person.

3. Is there a Texas bill on adoption that discriminates against hopeful LGBTQ+ parents?

Particularly for same-sex couples, there is often a fear that state laws will prevent them from adopting. While there are no Texas adoption laws restricting LGBTQ+ parents from adopting, there is a 2017 Texas adoption bill, House Bill 3859, which allows faith-based groups working with the Texas child welfare system (foster care) to deny services “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

So, while it’s at the discretion of foster care agencies to choose whether or not to work with same-sex couples, there isn’t specific language that would prevent same-sex couples from adopting as a result of that adoption bill. Texas LGBTQ+ parents should always work with a Texas adoption professional who is known to welcome same-sex adoptive parents, to ensure that they won’t be turned away by someone who may cite that piece of Texas adoption legislation.

4. Can prospective birth parents receive financial assistance in Texas?

Yes, assistance is accepted by Texas adoption law. Birth mother expenses paid by an adoption agency and/or the adoptive parents must be reviewed by a judge to be deemed as “necessary and reasonable,” however.

Each individual 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 home study services

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. Offering or accepting any form of payment in exchange for the placement of a child may be considered human trafficking and is a serious criminal offense.

5. How does Texas adoption consent work?

In accordance with Texas adoption laws’ waiting period, a birth mother must wait at least 48 hours after birth before consent can be executed. Birth fathers may execute consent at any time before or after the child’s birth. (See “Birth Father Rights in Texas” for more information about when parental consent may not be necessary.)

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. Birth parents who are minors can also consent to adoption in Texas, as long as they follow the same procedure.

If a child is 12 or older, she or he must consent to being adopted unless the court finds it in the child’s best interests to waive consent.

In the case of stepparent adoption, Texas Family Code states that the parent must join the stepparent in the petition for adoption, but further consent of that parent is not required.

6. Can a birth parent revoke their consent to an adoption in Texas? How long is the Texas adoption revocation period for birth parents?

According to the state’s legal adoption revocation period, Texas birth parents who previously consented to an adoption are allowed to withdraw consent within 10 days. After 10 days of executing their consent, it becomes irrevocable unless there is evidence that consent was obtained through fraud or duress.

7. Can parental rights be reinstated after adoption in Texas?

Typically, no. Not if the parental rights have already been relinquished and the 10-revocation period has passed, or if the child has been placed into an adoptive family because the court already deemed it to be “in the best interest” of the child.

8. Are adoption facilitators legal in Texas, or is it legal to advertise for adoption yourself?

No. Adoption rules in Texas prohibit advertising by any person or entity other than the state social services department or a licensed child-placing agency.

9. Are there Texas closed adoption laws that protect the birth parents’ anonymity?

Expectant parents who wish to place a child for adoption anonymously have asked if there are any Texas adoption confidentiality laws that could guarantee privacy. It’s mostly DCFPS adoptions that are covered under closed adoption laws. Texas adoption professionals may assist the prospective birth parent with a closed adoption if that is the person’s wish, but 95% of modern adoptions today are open. This is strongly encouraged, as greater openness has been proven to benefit the child.

Once adoption records in a closed adoption have been sealed, an adult adoptee may request a redacted copy of their records, but the identifying information of the birth parents is removed.

10. Is an open adoption legally enforceable in Texas?

There are no specific open adoption laws in Texas. Therefore, post adoption contact agreements (PACAs) are not defensible in court.

Connect with an Adoption Specialist

Thinking about adopting a baby in TX? Texas private adoption laws, like all types of adoptions, are complex.

You’ll need help from a qualified expert in order to navigate those Texas adoption laws. Private agencies can help if you have questions about infant adoption laws in Texas, so we recommend contacting one of these professionals now.