Adoption creates a parental relationship with the rights, powers, and responsibilities that entail that relationship between persons who, prior to the adoption, were generally legal strangers. The foremost concern in adoption proceedings is the safety, education, care, and protection of the children to be affected thereby.
Typically, any adult may petition to adopt a child. However, a child residing in Texas may only be adopted if:
- The parent-child relationship has been terminated or a suit for termination is joined with the suit for adoption
- The parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner and the proceeding is a stepparent petition
- The child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, the person seeking adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession and control of the child for six months preceding the adoption or is the child's former stepparent, and the non-terminated parent consents to the adoption, or
- The child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent and the person seeking adoption is the child's former stepparent and has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of one year preceding the adoption
A court must grant an adoption if the court finds that the requirements for adoption have been met and the adoption is in the best interest of the child. The court has wide latitude in determining the best interest of the child. The court may consider its observation of the child and the child's testimony in determining the best interest of the child.
In some cases, when the statues in the Family Code are not strictly complied with, the result may be that the adoption technically did not take place. However, Texas courts recognize equitable adoption or adoption by estoppel. To have adoption by estoppel, there must be proof of an agreement to adopt and performance by the child. Any contract to adopt must be a present promise to adopt, not a desire or intention to adopt in the future. Performance by the child may consist of showing that the child conferred love, affection, companionship and other benefits on the adoptive parent due to believing they were in a parent-child relationship. If adoption by estoppel is permitted, the child can inherit under the laws of descent and distribution, and also may be treated as a legally adopted child for federal Social Security benefits.
Texas also authorizes for the adoption of an adult by another adult. In order to obtain the adoption of an adult, the adult to be adopted must consent in writing to be adopted.
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From the initial consultation through the resolution of your case, we emphasize communication in order to keep you informed. If you have an adoption issue, call 512-212-4916 locally or toll free at 800-524-0139, or use our contact form to schedule a meeting.