Before a child is eligible for adoption, at least one parent's parental rights must be terminated. Termination of parental rights may be voluntary or involuntary. Sometimes one or both parents will voluntarily relinquish his or her parental rights. Voluntary termination is the easiest way to terminate parental rights. The attorney will prepare an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, which will be filed with the court. The parent or parents will be ordered to provide a medical history report of the parent and parent's ancestors.
Other times a person's parental rights must be terminated involuntarily by the court. There are many grounds in the Texas Family Code to involuntarily terminate parental rights, including voluntarily leaving the child alone or in the possession of another with no intent to return, allowing a child to remain in conditions that endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child, or failing to support a child during a period of one year. The allegations must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt - a much higher burden than most family law proceedings.
Once a parent's rights have been terminated, then a child is eligible for adoption. Additionally, the child must have lived with the prospective adoptive parent or parents for at least six months prior to filing the petition for adoption. There are additional requirements for adoption that your attorney will discuss with you prior to filing the petition. It is becoming more and more common for family members to adopt grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and stepchildren.
Termination and adoption proceedings are often filed together. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must obtain a criminal history report and undergo a home study prior to the court approving the adoption. A termination and adoption proceeding may also require the appointment of an Attorney Ad Litem for the Child, which is an attorney who represents the interests of the child and informs the court about whether the termination and adoption is in the best interest of the child. Your attorney will let you know if your case requires an Attorney Ad Litem for the child.
Contact a Texas Termination and Adoption Attorney
A termination and adoption can be a lengthy process, but a worthy one. An attorney with experience in terminations and adoptions can help reduce the stress that may arise from the process. If you or a loved one is seeking to terminate and adopt in Texas, contact attorneys Holland and Wilson today.