Adoption

Can I Adopt with Mental Health Problems?

The short answer to the question is, maybe. Let’s take a deeper look at the adoption process and potential roadblocks as well as steps to mitigate the challenges.

The first question you must examine is whether you are ready to parent a child. Being a parent is rewarding but also financially and mentally challenging. When you are a parent, your entire life changes – forever. Before moving forward with adoption, first make sure that you have considered both the highs and lows of raising a child. Be honest with yourself on whether you are fully committed.

Obstacles to Adoption

Background checks and home visits are required for adoption. Your financial, medical, criminal, and family histories will be scrutinized. Adoption agencies are not expecting a perfect record, but they must be confident of your ability to raise a child.

Having a mental health diagnosis does not automatically disqualify you from adopting in Texas. The adoption agency will consider all aspects of the condition. A letter from your physician or mental health provider stating that you are fit to be a parent will help in your application. Be honest about your illness and the medications you take. Showing that you take the steps necessary to manage your mental health – medication, counseling, etc. – is important in proving your stability. The agency will also recognize the support systems you have in place. Other health conditions are looked at similarly. The placing agency wants to be confident that you are physically and mentally able to care for the child.

During the background check, your criminal history (if any) will be examined. A clear criminal history is not required. The specifics of the offense and when it happened will be considered. There are definitive offenses that will preclude someone from adopting. However, no individual who must register as a sex offender may adopt. You also will be denied if you have been convicted of felony assault, battery, or a drug-related offense in the last five years. See the full list of disqualifying crimes here.

At The Springer Law Firm, our skilled adoption attorneys take a personal approach to your adoption strategy. We can help you through each step of the adoption process, identify and mitigate potential difficulties, and ensure you are prepared for the home visits.

Adopting a Child in Texas

Who can adopt, and who can be adopted, are established in Texas law.

We can guide you through the following types of adoption:

  • Foster care adoption
  • Agency adoption
  • Relative adoption
  • Stepparent adoption
  • Special needs adoption
  • International adoption
  • Infant adoption
  • Private adoption

Who May Be Adopted

A child residing in the State may be adopted if one of the following criteria are met (Citation: Fam. Code §§ 162.001; 162.501; 162.504):

  • The parent-child relationship as to each living parent of the child has been terminated or a suit for termination is joined with the suit for adoption.
  • The parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption.
  • The child is at least 2 years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, the person seeking the adoption has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of six months preceding the adoption or is the child's former stepparent, and the nonterminated parent consents to the adoption.
  • The child is at least 2 years old, the parent-child relationship has been terminated with respect to one parent, and the person seeking the adoption is the child's former stepparent and has been a managing conservator or has had actual care, possession, and control of the child for a period of one year preceding the adoption.

Placing a child for adoption can be done by the child’s biological or adoptive parent, the child’s legal guardian, a licensed child-placing agency, or the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Interestingly, an adult residing in Texas may adopt another adult with the adult adoptee’s written consent.

Who May Adopt

Texas code has little guidance on this other than to say “any adult” may adopt but DFPS has outlined basic adoption guidelines. Private adoption agencies may have additional requirements.

According to DFPS, prospective foster/adoptive parents may be single or married and must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults
  • Complete an application
  • Share information regarding their background and lifestyle
  • Provide relative and non-relative references
  • Show proof of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)
  • Agree to a home study that includes visits with all household members
  • Complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household

Texas generally requires five home visits after a child has been placed. The adoption is not finalized until the post-placement reports are completed, and you may have to attend a finalization hearing.

Ready to Adopt?

If you are considering adoption, our experience can demystify the adoption process and help you establish the legal approach needed to begin or expand your family.

Call (281) 990-6025 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

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