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Texas Adoption: Overview of the Law

Choosing to bring a child into your home through adoption is a major decision that will alter your life and the child's life forever. With any type of adoption, there are rights, responsibilities, and obligations that accompany the eventual bliss that you will experience when the child is officially part of your life.

Legal Overview of Texas Adoptions

Although the relevant laws concerning Texas adoptions are best interpreted with an attorney's assistance, it doesn't hurt to have a plain language explanation as a starting point for analysis. The chart below provides a summary of information concerning the legal overview of the adoption process in Texas, including links to the applicable statutes.


Termination of parental rights

In most cases, the parental rights of both biological parents must be terminated for an eligible adoption.

Step parent adoptions

  • A step parent can file for adoption for their step child without terminating the rights of both biological parents.
  • If the biological parent is married to the adoption seeking step parent, then the termination is only required for the other parent.

Consent Needed for Adoption
Adoption is possible when one parent has terminated their rights and the other parent (who retains their parental rights) consents to the adoption by the following:

  • The child's former step parent;
  • Managing conservator; or
  • The person who has had possession, care, and control of the child for at least 6 months prior to filing for adoption.
  • A child that is 12 years old or older must consent to adoption in writing or in court.

No Parental Consent

Adoption is possible without parental consent only if:

  • One parent has terminated rights.
  • The prospective adopted parent is the child's former step parent and has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and care for a period of 1 year prior to filing for the adoption.

Background Information

Information regarding the child to be adopted and the prospective adoptive parents must be obtained and provided to the court.

  • Unless the adoptive parents are the child's grandparent, aunt, uncle or step parent, then reports about the child's health, social, educational, and genetic history must be made available to the prospective parent so that the parents are aware of the child's needs. Although this is required, it doesn't affect the outcome of the adoption; the validity of the final adoption cannot be attacked on this basis.
  • The court requires a criminal history report for each person seeking to adopt a child.


Legal Standard

After the parties have given testimony and the court has examined the various reports, the judge will make the adoption decision. If the adoption is for the "best interest of the child," the court terminates the parent-child relationship and renders the adoption order.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Texas Adoption Overview

Discuss Adoption with an Experienced Attorney

Adopting a child requires the completion of numerous legal requirements. If you're involved in an adoption, it's important to find the right person to help you navigate through the process as easily as possible. Contact a Texas adoption attorney right away.

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