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Establishing Paternity in Texas Part III

Welcome back to the third and final installment on the ways in which paternity is established in the state of Texas.  This blog post will focus on adoption and some of the interesting intricacies that can spring up as prospective parents peruse the legal landscape of adoption in Texas.

Chapter 162 of the Texas Family Code contains the statutory rules surrounding adoption.  A question commonly asked of family law attorneys is:  “Who may be adopted?”  Section 162.001 provides that a child residing the state of Texas may be adopted if: 

  • (1) the parent-child relationship as to each living parent of the child has been terminated or a suit for termination is joined with the suit for adoption;
  • (2) the parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption;
  • (3) the child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, the person seeking the adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of six months preceding the adoption or is the child’s former stepparent, and the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption; or
  • (4) the child is at least two years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the person seeking the 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.

Unless the adopting party is a grandparent, aunt or uncle by birth, marriage, or prior adoption, or a stepparent, the law requires the preparation of a health, social, educational, and genetic history report on the child to be adopted.  Under section 162.005, before a child can be placed for adoption, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, a licensed child-placing agency, or the child’s parent or guardian shall compile such a report.  The report must include a history of the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse suffered by the child, if any, and the person or entity who places the child for adoption must provide the prospective adoptive parents a copy of the report as early as practicable before the first meeting of the adoptive parents with the child.

Additionally, if the child has been placed for adoption by a person or entity other than the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or the child’s parent or guardian, it is the duty of the person or entity who places the child for adoption to prepare the report.  Also, all copies of the report shall be edited to protect the identity of the birth parents and their families.

Section 162.008 works in conjunction with section 162.005 and provides that the health, social, educational, and genetic history report of the adoptive child must be signed by the child’s adoptive parents and filed with the court before a petitioner for adoption may be granted.  Additionally, if the report is required to be submitted to the bureau of vital statistics, a certificate from the bureau acknowledging receipt of the report must also be filed.

However, section 162.008(c) provides an exception to the report requirement by stating that “a court having jurisdiction of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship may by order waive the making and filing of a report under this section if the child’s biological parents cannot be located and their absence results in insufficient information being available to compile the report.”

This post has briefly touched on three of the over seventy sections contained in the chapter on adoption in the Texas Family Code.  As you can see, navigating the legal landscape of adoption is a complex and highly-regulated process.  But there are many qualified attorneys across the state that stand ready to guide you through this process.  Ultimately, adoption is an overwhelmingly fulfilling chapter in the lives of the many men, women, and children who have benefited from stepping into this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.