The Royalls - Adoption FAQ's
Home page
Collaborative law
Our Firm
Good News
Contact Us
We just made the decision to adopt.  Where do we start?
We offer pre-placement consultations to help educate you about the adoption process. We have extensive experience in agency, private and international adoptions and we can help you understand the pros and cons of each. Although we cannot locate a child for you, we can counsel you about options for locating birth mothers.
What are the different types of adpotion available in Texas?
Texas permits both private and agency adoptions. Private adoptions are often referred to as independent adoptions. In an agency adoption the prospective adoptive parents will apply with the agency and wait for the agency to notify them that they have been selected to parent a particular child. The agency will locate the birth mother. The agency will then act as an intermediary between the birth parents and the adoptive couple. The agency will deal with the birth parents and make all of the arrangements to facilitate the adoption.

In a private adoption you will have to actually locate a birth mother who is willing to place her child for adoption. Although attorneys can arrange adoptions in other states, in Texas an attorney can not locate a birth mother for adoptive parents.

How do I locate a birth mother for a private adoption?
Locating a birth mother may be easier than you think. First of all we advise that prospective adoptive parents tell everyone they know that they are interested in adopting a child. You simply never know when you might run into someone who is interested in making an adoption plan.

Many adoptive parents have located a birth mother by placing notices on bulletin boards at universities. If you intend to do this, then you need to check with the university to make sure that this is permitted.

Another alternative is to use a facilitator. Facilitators are paid advertisers who will seek out prospective birth mothers across the country. When they receive a request from a birth mother, they will present her with resumes from adoptive couples who meet her requirements. The birth mother will actually choose the couple that she wants and then they will proceed with a private adoption. In some states you may advertise as well.

Can we advertise?
Until 1996 anyone could advertise for adoption in Texas. In 1996, the state legislature passed a bill that restricts advertising for birth mothers in Texas. It is clear that the statute prohibits out of state agencies from coming into Texas and advertising for birth mothers, but what is a little uncertain is whether prospective adoptive parents can advertise that they are willing to accept a child into their home for the purposes of adoption. We believe that under the current statute adoptive parents can still advertise. However, there are no reported cases interpreting this statute, so the answer to this question remains unclear. On the other hand, the statute does make it clear that an agency licensed by the state of Texas can advertise for birth mothers. Many agencies will place an advertisement in Texas on your behalf for a fee.

There are many other states that clearly permit advertising by adoptive parents. If there is a particular state where you want to advertise, please contact us to determine if it is permissible in that state.

What can we pay for?
Texas law restricts the expenses adoptive parents can pay on behalf of biological parents. These restrictions apply even if the birth mother lives in a state that is more permissive in terms of payments of expenses. Adoptive parents can legally pay for medical and legal expenses relating to the adoption. You can also pay a social worker or mental health professional to provide adoption counseling. It is also legal for you to pay a fee to a licensed child-placing agency. You can not directly pay for any living expenses on behalf of the mother.

If you are working with a birth mother who needs assistance with expenses, then you might want to consider working with an agency on a designated adoption. In a designated adoption you will pay a fee to an agency and they in turn will provide services to the birth mother. An agency can legally pay certain living expenses on behalf of the birth parents.

What difference does it make if we are working with a birth mother is from another state?
When you work with a birth mother in another state you will have to comply with the laws of both states. This means that you will need an attorney in both states. The attorneys will have to confer with each other to determine where it will be best for you to complete the legal process.

An interstate adoption also requires compliance with the Interstate Compact which is a uniform set of regulations between states. The compact basically states that you can not bring a child from one state to another, for the purposes of adoption, without obtaining permission from the Compact Administrator. The compact requires documentation showing that the parental rights have been or can be terminated, a copy of the genetic history for a child and the home study. We advise clients that it typically takes 7-10 days to get the approval from the Interstate Compact. During this time you will not be able to return to Texas with the child.

What is a home study?
A pre adoptive home screening is a report that is prepared by a licensed social worker with experience with adoption studies. The process will include interviews with the adoptive parents; obtaining verification of certain legal documents; obtaining letters of reference from friends and family; confirmation of your financial status; and running a criminal history and child abuse check. The report will be put in written form and submitted with the Interstate Compact packet. This report is also filed with the court that grants the termination of parental rights. The home screening will then be updated through post placement visits. These will focus and report on the child's progress in your home. This post placement report will be submitted to the court at the time of the adoption hearing.
What is the adoption tax credit?
Beginning in 2002, the adoption tax credit gives you a credit against taxes for up to $10,000 for qualified adoption related expenses. In special needs adoptions, the $10,000 credit will be allowed with or without qualified expenses This credit does not apply to step-parent adoptions. Qualified expenses include agency fees, attorneys fees, travel expenses and lodging. There are certain income limits, so I suggest that you contact your CPA to determine the amount of your credit.
What is an open adoption?
An open adoption is one where the adoptive parents and birth parents continue to have some type of contact with each other. Some open adoptions consist of only an exchange of names, others include provisions for on-going contact. In private adoptions it is up to the adoptive parents and the birth parents to determine the amount and type of contact that they desire to have in the future. In an agency adoption the agency will continue to act as an intermediary to facilitate future contact. Texas law does not recognize these contracts, except in limited circumstances.
What is the legal process?
The legal process will vary depending on your personal situation. If the birth mother and the adoptive parents live in Texas, then the termination of parental rights will take place here. When the termination is granted, then the adoptive parents will be appointed as the Managing Conservators, which is the Texas term for legal guardian. Usually the termination of parental rights is granted based upon the consent of birth parents.

When the birth mother lives in another state, then the attorneys from the two states will have to confer to determine where the termination of parental rights will occur. The United States is like 50 different countries, each with its own set of laws. Sometimes it is not possible to reconcile the laws of both states, so we have to determine whose laws are the most favorable to you. Many states are consent to adoption states so they do not actually terminate parental rights. If you involved with one of these states, then we will have to do the termination in Texas so that we can meet the statutory requirements for an adoption.

The termination of parental rights is usually done within a short period of time. Your petition for adoption can not be finalized until the child has been in your possession for six months. At the time of the adoption you must present the court with a social study, a genetic history, and the results of a criminal history report.

Adoptions | Collaborative Law | Our Firm | Biographies | FAQ's
Services | Articles | Good News | Contact Us | Home