While parenting is never easy, adoption comes prepackaged with its own particular set of challenges—legal and otherwise. But for those who feel drawn to this selfless calling, the experience is also incredibly rewarding, allowing you to provide love, emotional support, and a stable home to children in need.
Yet, committing yourself to this course is just the first step. The adoption process can be complex and stressful, and even a simple mistake could end up costing you far more money than you originally intended. A quality family attorney can help you avoid these mistakes, freeing your emotional energy from the complicated legal nuisances of adoption, and allowing you to devote more focus to connecting with your child.
At Neal Ashmore, our attorneys are skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate. We understand that—while incredibly exciting—this is a big step for your family, and with all the other stresses a new parent faces, we want to make sure legal hiccups aren’t on the list. By choosing us, you get a team with over a century of experience dealing with all types of adoption-related issues, including:
- Grandparent adoption;
- Stepparent adoption;
- Domestic and international adoption;
- Open and closed adoption;
- Guardianship; as well as,
- Surrogacy agreements, and assisted reproduction.
Here’s a little bit about how Texas handles each of these situations, and how your Neal Ashmore attorney can help the experience run smoothly.
Grandparent adoption is when a child is adopted by his or her biological grandparents. For grandparents who are already the main caretakers of their grandchildren, adoption can eliminate many everyday hassles, such as medical appointments and insurance.
Terminating parental rights is first and biggest hurdle for this type of adoption. Sometimes, parents agree that this switch is for the best, but not always. If the child’s parents are unwilling to terminate their rights, all is not lost. The Texas Family Code allows grandparents to fight for custody, especially in cases of abuse or harm. If this sounds like you, our attorneys are well equipped to advise you on how best to proceed.
When individuals with kids tie the knot, the logistics of combining children from different partners can get tricky, especially if parenting rights are shared by an outside party. Thus, in terms of legal authority, and finances, as well as strengthening emotional ties, it’s not uncommon for stepparents to adopt their spouse’s children. To do so, the process is similar to grandparent adoption, requiring a termination of parental rights, a home study, child consent (if the child is over twelve), and a court hearing to make it all official.
It’s important to note, that once a stepparent adoption is finalized, that individual has the same legal rights as a biological parents—even if the couple gets a divorce later on down the line.
Domestic and International Adoption
With the foster care system and orphanages overwhelmed by children in desperate need of homes, domestic and international adoption are both valid options for individuals wishing to expand their families. When deciding whether to adopt from the U.S., or from overseas, your Neal Ashmore attorney will walk you through several points of consideration, including:
- Your desired age range;
- Travel costs and difficulties;
- How important background and medical history is to you; and even,
- Your marital status.
In general, international adoption agencies have more stringent restrictions. Many limit adoptions to stably married couples, and do not allow infants to be adopted. Information on the child’s background and medical history might also be limited, since many children are abandoned, and their histories cannot be accounted for. Despite these drawbacks, international adoption has many benefits, and if it something you want to pursue, your attorney can discuss how to overcome international challenges when adopting your child.
Open or Closed Adoption
Another important adoption consideration, is how much contact you want your child to have with his or her birth parents. In a closed adoption, files are usually sealed, and the perspective parents do not communicate after the adoption is finalized. In contrast, open adoptions allow varying levels of communication to continue between the families—the amount of which depends on each side’s comfort level.
In general, closed adoptions are becoming rarer in the United States, since open adoptions give adoptive parents greater access to things like medical history, and can often remove some of the mystery and confusion for children asking difficult questions. On the flip side, constant interaction with biological parents can sometimes create unnecessary stress and authority issues for adoptive parents.
With pros and cons to each method, the right choice will ultimately come down to your unique circumstances, and is one your Neal Ashmore attorney can help you make.
When it comes to taking care of children other than your own, adoption isn’t the only avenue. In some circumstances, a less permanent measure—such as guardianship—might be the better alternative. A guardian is someone who has been charged with taking care of a dependent. Under this arrangement, biological parents can retain their legal rights, while at the same time granting an outside party the authority to meet their child’s emotional and physical needs.
A guardianship arrangement can be an attractive option for a parent who needs temporary help, but who fully intends to become reliable again in the future. A way for them to make sure their child is being taken care of, without giving up their rights permanently.
Whether you are a guardian, or are a parent in need of assigning a guardian, Neal Ashmore can help you make sure you and your child’s needs are being met during this shared arrangement.
Surrogacy Agreements and Assisted Reproduction
In recent decades, advances in medical technology have opened up even more options for family expansion, such as surrogate pregnancy (a woman carrying a baby that isn’t biologically hers), and assisted reproduction (such as in vitro fertilization and sperm injection). While these scenarios have created their own unique legal challenges, Neal Ashmore has had the privilege of working at the forefront of these advances, as we help our clients navigate these new waters.
If you are considering a non-traditional method of birth—whether with or without a partner—it would be our pleasure to make sure your legal interests are being protected through this exciting process.
Texas Adoption and Guardianship Attorneys
Whether you’re a grandparent seeking custody of your grandchild, a single dad adopting a toddler, or a same sex couple using a surrogate to bring your child into the world, the attorneys at Neal Ashmore Family Law Group celebrate your bravery and dedication to raising the next generation. As you take on these challenging and rewarding new roles, we are here to help the legal side of things run smoothly. Call us today at (972) 436-8000, or schedule a consultation online to see how we can help you transition into this exciting phase of life without any legal headaches.