Houston Adoption Lawyer
Whether you are seeking to adopt a child or put your child up for adoption, it is important to know your rights and obligations before, during and after you finalize the adoption process. At The Alsandor Law Firm, we provide strategic advocacy and support to clients interested in adoption. Our attorney will provide you with the information and resources you need to protect your rights.
When entering into an adoption agreement, it is important to understand how your rights and obligations will be affected now and in the future. Contact us for a consultation or case evaluation.
We have experience in all types of adoption cases, including the following:
- Stepparent adoption
- Grandparent adoption
- Abandoned children
- Voluntary parental right termination
- Addiction and danger to children
- Neglect or child abuse
Many grandparents find themselves in the situation where they need to adopt their grandchildren to ensure both the health and well-being of the child. Many grandparents find themselves faced with this difficult situation:
- after parents abandon the child,
- when parents put the child at risk because of an addiction, or
- if the parents are physically unable to care for a child.
We will take a strategic approach to protect the child’s best interests as well as the rights of the grandparents interested in adoption. Our firm can also represent you if you are seeking to defend against a grandparent adoption.
How Grandparent Adoptions Work
In Texas, as in most states, there are only two people that have legal parental rights over a child. Typically, this is the child’s mother and father. In cases where neither can or should have parental control over a child, many grandparents step in and adopt the children. This can happen when the parents have died, are incarcerated, or they are mentally ill. In order to do this, the state must determine that the grandparents are capable of caring for the child. Hence, there is a process involved.
What does this process involve?
Terminating the Parental Rights of the Biological Parents
First, the parental rights of both parents need to be terminated. This process can happen either voluntarily or, in cases where the parents are incapable of taking on the responsibility of raising the child, the state may step in and revoke their parental rights. When it is the grandparents who are petitioning the court for custody, they will need to file an Affidavit of Relinquishment. For obvious reasons, this is going to be an emotionally trying period for the parents, the children, and the grandparents who will assume custody. In cases where all parties agree to the change in custody, it can be less stressful. The attorneys at Alsandor Law Firm can help guide you through every step of this process.
Completing a Home Study
Just like any kind of adoption, a social worker will need to complete a home study to ensure that the child will be in a safe environment. Even in instances where the children have been living with their grandparents for an extended period of time, the state requires a home study to be performed before granting legal custody. The state will ensure that you are physically, mentally, and financially capable of raising the child. They may identify issues with your that could create safety problems.
Our attorneys can guide you through this process and help you pass with flying colors.
The Child’s Consent
In Texas, any child twelve years of age or older must legally consent to the adoption. This generally requires a simple signature.
A Court Hearing
The final part of the process is a hearing. Usually, the biological parents’ rights will be terminated at the same hearing that the grandparents are awarded custody.
After remarriage, a stepparent may become the parent to a child from a previous marriage. Stepparent adoptions are available where the biological parent is estranged or agrees to the voluntary termination of rights. An adoption will give the stepparent the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare. If you are a stepparent or seeking a stepparent adoption for your child, our Houston TX adoption attorney is here to help you.
The process begins with a formal request to adopt the child. As always, Alsandor Law Firm can guide you through each step in the process of adopting a stepchild.
Terminating Parental Rights of a Biological Parent
There are only two ways that this can go. Either an absent parent voluntarily relinquishes their parental rights to a child, or they fight the adoption in court. Either way, if the parent is alive, they must be notified of a stepparent’s intent to adopt the child. A judge will make a decision based on the best interests of the child. Reasons why the judge may deem the biological parent unfit include the following. If the parent:
- is incarcerated,
- has been absent for an extended period of time, or
- has had drug abuse or mental health issues.
After their parental rights have been terminated, they will have no right to ask for visitation or otherwise have access to the child. It’s a major step that essentially cuts the parent out of the child’s life.
Our attorneys can help you through this difficult process and also inform the court as to why you have come to this difficult decision.
Conducting a Social Study
If the court determines that adoption is in the best interests of the child or children, the next step in the process is a social study also known as a home study. Social workers will visit your home and evaluation the situation there. They will ensure that you understand your obligations toward the child and take a look at your employment and financial situation. The court will use this information to make a more informed decision as to the best interests of the child.
In many cases, this is just a formality. If the child has been living with you and your spouse for a lengthy period of time, the study will still need to be conducted. Our attorneys can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect, as well as make sure that you’re prepared for all the questions that the social workers will ask.
The Amicus Attorney’s Evaluation
The amicus attorney acts as a non-biased third party who will do the following:
- evaluate the social study,
- conduct their own interviews, and then
- submit a recommendation to the court.
This attorney, in fact, represents the child ad litem. The amicus attorney may ask you several of the same questions that were asked by social workers in the social study. It’s easy to get frustrated by this process.
In cases where the child is 12 years of age or older, they will need to consent to the adoption.
Understanding the Stepparent Adoption Process
Adopting a stepchild can have many benefits for the parent. But it also terminates the parental role of their biological parent. In fact, the situation for the child may not change very much. The parent, however, will have the power to make key decisions for the child including educational and medical decisions. The court takes this into consideration when determining what is best for the child. For your part, any stepparent who is committed to the child, loves the child, and is able to financially support the child should not have much of a problem convincing the court that adoption is the best course of action. The attorneys at Alsandor Law Firm have the experience you need to advocate passionately for you and your children.
Facilitation of Adoption With Adoptive Parents
In addition to family adoptions, we are also experienced in helping mothers and adoptive parents facilitate an adoption. If you are considering adoption or you have already agreed to the terms of an adoption, but want legal support to protect your rights, we encourage you to speak with us about open adoption and closed adoption options.
Contact The Alsandor Law Firm for a consultation with Cheryl Alsandor, a family law specialist board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or one of our other family law attorneys, serving clients throughout the Greater Houston, Texas area.