The adoption process can be lengthy, but it is rewarding. In the state of Texas, for the adoption to proceed, a termination of one or both parents' parental rights must be established. Chapter 162 of the Family Code Statute of the Texas State Constitution gives specific guidelines on adoption and termination of parent's rights. In all cases, the court considers many factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
A parent's rights can be involuntarily terminated if the court decides that the child has been abandoned. If the child has been placed with another person who is not the child's parent for an extended period, the child can be considered abandoned. If the parent states that he or she does not intend to return, offers no means of support to the child and is absent for more than months, the parent could lose rights to the child. In addition, a father can lose his rights under Texas law if he leaves the child's mother during her pregnancy, if he knows she is pregnant.
Neglect or Abuse
If abuse or neglect of the child can be established in a Texas court of law, the parent can lose rights. Abuse or neglect can include sexual, physical or mental abuse, subjecting the child to an unfit environment or failing to enroll the child in school. Another factor that could be grounds for termination having previously lost rights to another child.
If one of the parents has been convicted or incarcerated for crimes that could place the child in danger, rights can be terminated. Felony murder is one such crime, especially the murder of a child. Other crimes that could result in removal of a parent's rights are sexual assault, abuse of child, or possessing child pornography.
In adoption proceedings, a voluntary termination of parental rights is required if one of the parents has not been involuntarily removed by the courts. The parent must sign an affidavit to relinquish their rights to the child. In these cases, a voluntary termination of rights can be established if the child's parent is deceased or the parent is unknown.
Who Can Adopt
Once a termination of rights has been established, this statute of Texas law clearly defines who can adopt the child. Stepparents can adopt if they are married to the parent whose rights have not been removed. A stepparent can also adopt if he or she has been the caretaker of the child for up to six months preceding, and the rights of their former spouse have been terminated. Depending on the length of time the child has been in the stepparent's care, the other parent's consent may be required. If no adoptive parent can be determined, the child will be placed with the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or an adoption agency to find the child a home.