If you've recently discovered you're pregnant after taking efforts to prevent this from happening, you're not alone -- nearly 45 percent of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unplanned. Some of these unplanned pregnancies help bring couples together to create a new family, while others end in loss. If you're just at the beginning of your education or aren't in a stable relationship with the child's father, you may be considering putting your child up for adoption rather than raising him or her as a single parent or getting an abortion. This process is one of the most selfless acts you can perform for your child, but there are some laws and regulations by which you'll need to abide before the process can be finalized. Read on to learn more about the laws and practices that govern infant adoption in the Lone Star State.
When can you give a child up for adoption in Texas?
Like many states, Texas permits both open and closed adoptions. Open adoptions allow you to take a more present role in your biological child's life as he or she grows up -- the adoptive parents may provide you with photos, videos, and regular status updates or even allow you to occasionally visit with your child. You'll know your child's new name and where he or she lives. In a closed adoption, you won't be provided with any information about the adoptive parents that would allow you to identify them. While you may get occasional status updates from the adoptive parents, these updates will be routed through the adoption agency and any potentially identifying information may be omitted.
In order for a child to be adopted in Texas, the parental rights of both biological parents must be terminated. This process can be done voluntarily 48 hours after birth, by signing away your parental rights and placing your child in the custody of his or her new adoptive parents or a state adoption agency. This time period usually coincides with the length of your hospital stay for a complication-free birth. The termination of parental rights can also be accomplished following a court hearing in cases of abandonment or abuse, allowing a child to be adopted even without the consent of one or both biological parents.
Where should you begin if you're considering adoption?
Your first step should be to locate the putative father of your child and try to secure his cooperation in the adoption process. Although there are some situations in which an adoption can proceed without the consent of both biological parents, having this consent is much easier and will allow the process to go forth smoothly. If you're unable to find the putative father -- or if you're not sure who the father is -- you'll need to petition the court to provide advance notice of the pending adoption. This is often accomplished through a newspaper notice or other publication. If the putative father doesn't respond in time to preserve his rights, the adoption is permitted to proceed even without his express consent.
If your child's father has a substance abuse issue, is a domestic abuser, or is otherwise a harmful parental influence, you may also be able to petition the court for termination of his parental rights prior to your child's birth so that the adoption can proceed quickly once your child is born. Once these parental rights are terminated, your child can be permanently adopted by his or her forever family.
Texas also permits adoptive parents to pay any medical expenses or lost wages incurred during the pregnancy and birth. There is no maximum cap on the amount of these expenses -- they can range from ordinary hospital bills to a food delivery service or even a private taxi service if you've been placed on bedrest and need to travel. If you're considering pursuing private adoption, it can be worthwhile to consult an attorney to help you negotiate for the payment of at least a portion of your expenses. This can minimize any financial stress during a time of rapid change.
For more information about the adoption process, talk with an adoption agency or visit websites like http://www.achildsdream.org.