By: Leslie Barrows
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November is National Adoption Awareness Month
National Adoption Day, while officially observed on November 21, 2015, is celebrated in Texas counties at adoption events all November long. Thursday November 20th is the Tarrant County National Adoption Day at the Tarrant County Family Center, where starting at 8:00 a.m., more than 40 families will adopt children into their families. Many of the adoptable children are step and foster children who are already living with happy, safe and nurturing families and the legal adoptions makes these children permanent family members. Texas has an increasing number of young children removed from birth mothers, into the foster system, because of drug addiction and other threats to children. These children need and deserve the stability of loving families and proper homes.
Child adoption in the State of Texas and the Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services oversees foster care and adoption programs, its Texas Adoption Resource Exchange website offers information and resources about adoption. Texas adoption law allows a mature and financially stable and responsible adult, age 21 or older to adopt any child age 12 years and younger, without consent (children 12 and older must consent), so long as the adopting adult satisfies criminal background and social services checks and investigations. There is a six-month (may be waived) home residency requirement before finalizing adoptions, which is usually satisfied where the children are foster or step children living with the adopting parents. After the background check and home study there is often, a training and education conducted for the new family to assess the fit and whether adoption is best for the family.
The Gladney Center for Adoption in Fort Worth, Texas recently celebrated 125 years in leading as a pioneering voice for improving the lives of children, adoptive families and birth parents. Founded in 1887 as Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society, the organization has placed at least 30,000 orphaned children with new families. The Gladney Center’s namesake is the late Ms. Edna Gladney, who served as the Superintendant of the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society and was instrumental in her efforts to help Texas pass a 1936 bill legally removing “illegitimacy” from birth records, and in 1951, helping Texas give adopted children the same inheritance rights as biological children.[i]
Texas adoption procedures and the role of the adoption attorney in representing adopting parents
An adult may petition the local court in their county of residence to adopt a child who may legally be adopted. A child may be adopted if the parent-child relationship as to each living parent has been terminated in a separate legal action or an action for termination is joined with the action for adoption.[ii] The attorney representing the adult petitioning to adopt will file the appropriate petition and arrange for service of legal process of the adoption action upon any legal parent of the child with legal parental rights, subject to termination in the adoption action. In cases where a spouse of a parent seeks to adopt a stepchild, the court is first asked to appoint a nonparent as a managing conservator with authority to consent to adoption of a child.
Once an adoption case is allowed to proceed by the court, a social study is ordered. The social study evaluator conducts interviews, observes, and investigates home environments and the world of people with whom the adoptive child will have contact. The petitioners seeking adoption usually pay for the social study, which also includes a review of the financial and general stability of the petitioners to ensure the best interests of an adoptive child will be met. The adoption is ready to be scheduled for a prove-up before the court, after the social study is concluded along with any remaining court requirements, if any, such as the included report of an Amicus Attorney, appointed by the court to determine the best interests of the child.
For more on Texas adoptions and procedures, listen to the podcast interview, Adoption laws and procedures in Texas with Attorney Leslie Barrows.
The Barrows Firm attorneys are active in supporting the cause to increase awareness about adoptions and juvenile matters generally. If you would like more information about The Barrows Firm, P.C., please contact the firm by calling (817) 481-1583. The Barrows Firm is located downtown Fort Worth at 500 East Belknap Street, near the Tarrant County Courthouse and the Tarrant County Family Law Center.