Nearly 120,000 children are adopted each year in the United States with 2,500 of those adoptions taking place in the state of Texas alone. Yet, in spite of the large number of adoptions that take place each year, there is still a large number of children that are waiting for adoption. In fact, some of the most recent information available indicates that there are well over 4,000 children still waiting for adoption in the state of Texas. However, in order to adopt any of these children, you must meet the minimum requirements established by the state or country in which you are attempting to adopt.
From the experience of a Houston adoption lawyer, the specific adoption process and the requirements for actually adopting a child vary greatly from state to state so it can be extremely difficult for an individual or couple to identify exactly what is required to adopt a child. The requirements for an individual to adopt in the state of Texas, however, are actually relatively straightforward as each individual planning on taking part in the adoption must be at least 21 years old, must be able to prove that they are financially stable, and must be willing to provide information about their background and lifestyle. Each individual involved in the adoption must also complete an application, provide references from relatives and non-relatives, consent to a criminal background check, attend a free training course on the problems that may arise when caring for abused and/or neglected children, and consent to an abuse and neglect background check of each adult living in the household. In addition, as is the case in virtually every state, each prospective parent will also have to agree to take part in a home study and may be required to provide proof of their marital status depending on the specific situation. In certain situations, a child may not be legally available for adoption, but instead available for foster care. If the individual or couple is interested in providing foster care for a child or group of children rather than adopting or in addition to adopting a child, there are several additional requirements that the individual or couple must meet in order to act as a child's foster parent(s) in the state of Texas.
First, the individual or couple must have enough room for each child to sleep and must take care of no more than six children in the home on a daily basis. Secondly, each individual wishing to be recognized as a foster parent must maintain CPR and First Aid certification, attend at least 20 hours of foster care training during each calendar year, and agree to discipline children without the use of physical force. Finally, each foster parent must agree to allow health and safety inspections and fire inspections as requested by the state, must agree to have each member of the household tested for TB as required by the local Health Department, and must make sure that all pets living in the household have their vaccinations up to date.
John Cavers is an assistant for Shannon Cavers, an adoption and family law attorney in Houston. Her latest article on how to work with a Houston wrongful death attorney discusses the challenges related to a family preparing itself to work with a lawyer when there is an accidental death.