Adding to Your Family Through Adoption
After struggling with infertility and dealing with the devastating realization that having a biological child may not be possible, many couples are often faced with a decision of where to turn next.
When a family’s true desire is to become parents, not to become pregnant, adoption is a beautiful way to build their family. It is a way for an expectant mother to provide more for her child, and it is a way for a couple to realize their dreams of becoming parents. It is a wonderful gift and true act of love, but how does it work?
What is Adoption?
Domestic infant adoption refers to the voluntary and permanent relinquishment of parental rights by a child’s birth parents, who select an adoptive family by whom the child will be raised. This provides adoptive parents with the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children were born to them. Adoptive parents, in turn, promise to love and care for this child as if he or she were a biological child.
Finding an Adoption Professional
While Adoption Answers cannot help with the legal aspects of an adoption, we can refer adoptive families to one of our adoption partners who will be able to better assist them with their adoption needs.
There are two main ways a family can adopt a baby in Texas: agency adoption or independent/private adoption.
An independent or private adoption in Texas is an adoption that is facilitated by an adoption attorney or law firm
(link to resources page). In this case, the adoption professional will assist in the completion of all legal aspects of the adoption from signing consent forms to finalizing the adoption. However, most adoption attorneys do not assist in finding birth mothers or provide counseling to birth parents or adoptive families.
Most adoption attorneys can assist in all types of adoption including, infant, foster, stepparent, and adult adoption. In most cases, the adoption attorney will be part of a law firm that also practices other types of law, or he/she may be an attorney who not only specializes in adoption but also specializes in other types of family law.
An agency adoption in Texas is an adoption that is facilitated by a local or national adoption agency. In these adoptions the agency will assist in all aspects of the adoption from connecting with a birth mother to facilitating post-placement contact between parties. Families who choose to work with adoption agencies are often attracted by the more personable approach to adoption that makes the entire process less intimidating.
Adoption Answers partners with the national adoption agency American Adoptions, which helps to complete more than 300 adoptions every year. There are many benefits to choosing American Adoptions as your agency, including:
- Short wait times
- Financial protection
- 24/7 support
- Broader exposure to expectant mothers
- Well-trained social work staff
- Personalized support from beginning to end
- Agency facilitated post-placement contact
- Personalized support for years after finalization
Connecting with an Expectant Mother
In an independent or private adoption adoptive families are responsible for finding an expectant mother on their own. This can be done by networking in their community, via family or friends, or by advertising their desire to adopt online or through their local news source.
However, before entering into any arrangements with a potential birth mother, it is important that adoptive families familiarize themselves with Texas’ adoption laws. Texas has strict regulations on the relationship between adoptive families and potential birth parents and does not allow any expenses to be paid by the adoptive family on behalf of the expectant mother.
In an agency adoption, the adoptive family will often complete some form of “profile” and submit it to their agency along with their ideal adoption situation (the race of the child, the health history of the child, etc.). The agency will then provide the family’s profile to potential birth parents who may meet their desires. From this point on it is up to the expectant mother to choose which family she would like to raise her child.
Unlike independent or private adoptions, agency adoptions coordinate all aspects of the adoption process, taking much of the pressure off of the adoptive families.
Life After Adoption
There is no true “end” to an adoption. The reality is that adoption is a lifelong journey of navigating the roads of parenthood, answering questions about adoption, and (hopefully) building a relationship with the child’s birth parents.
No longer a taboo subject, adoption is now celebrated among families and shared with children from an early age. Today, most adoptions are either open or semi-open, meaning adoptive families maintain some form of contact with their child’s birth parents. Unlike the closed adoptions of the past, these open lines of communication provide immeasurable benefits for the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adopted child.
For birth parents, post-placement contact allows them to see that their child is happy and well cared for, ensuring them that their adoption decision was for the best and helping them to heal. An open line of communication with their child’s birth parents allows adoptive parents to ask questions about their medical history should the child become ill.
Adopted children perhaps benefit the most from an open adoption. Allowing contact between child and birth parents can help them learn about their history and roots, providing a better sense of self and boost confidence. One of the greatest benefits of openness is simply love. A child can never have too many people who love them.