The journey of adoption usually begins with the exploration of the different types of adoption available. Researching the ways hopeful adoptive parents can expand their families and making a definitive decision on which path to choose can be overwhelming. This guide will explore the three types of adoption that are available to families looking to provide a child or children with a loving and forever home — Foster to Adopt, Domestic Infant Adoption and International Adoption, all offered by Upbring.
Foster to Adopt and Straight Adoption
Upbring Foster In Texas works with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to find loving temporary and permanent homes for children who have been removed from their biological parents due to neglect, physical abuse, substance abuse, etc. In most DFPS cases, the child is removed from their home and placed with a foster family. A judge will order the biological parents to complete certain tasks within a “reunification plan” to regain custody of their children. If the biological parents successfully complete all tasks asked of them and it is safe for the child to return home, then the child is reunified with their biological family.
If the biological parents do not take the necessary steps recommended by the courts, they will likely have their parental rights terminated, and the child will be eligible for adoption by relatives, their current foster family or another foster family licensed to adopt through foster care. Hopeful foster and adoptive families should understand that the primary goal of the DFPS is to reunite children with their biological parents. If that is not in the child’s best interest, they work to place them with relatives or with their current foster family when possible. If their current foster family is unable to adopt, the child will be placed with a foster family who is licensed to adopt. Foster and adoptive families should remain open to the possibility that the child or children will be reunited with their biological parents or placed with a relative.
There are also thousands of children whose parents’ rights have already been terminated and are waiting for a forever family to adopt them from foster care. This type of adoption is called “straight adoption” and is ideal for families who are not looking to take on the challenge of fostering a child but would prefer to adopt a child whose rights are already terminated.
Adopting from the foster care system is generally free for foster and adoptive families as it is funded by the state of Texas and the DFPS. Some small fees may be incurred by the family for health and fire inspections of your home as well as FBI fingerprints during the background check process. With children under the age of six, the adoptive family may also be responsible for legal fees.
Domestic Infant Adoption
Domestic adoption is the voluntary and permanent relinquishment of an infant born in the United States by the biological parents. In most cases, an adoption plan is created by the expectant mother during her pregnancy with the help of a child-placing agency like Upbring. With the help of counseling from an adoption professional, the birth parents will decide the type of adoptive family they want for their child as well as the amount of contact they desire with their child and adoptive family. Some birth families will prefer a more open adoption, while others may choose to keep the adoption closed and have no contact with the adoptive family after placement. Typically, relinquishment documents are signed by the birth family at the hospital and the infant will go home from the hospital with their adoptive family.
Because Child Protective Services and the state of Texas are not involved with private infant adoptions, adoptive families are responsible for the fees associated with the adoption. In most cases, these fees are first paid to the adoption agency who manages costs and the adoption process on your behalf. The fees help pay for the adoptive family approval process (application, training and home study) and case management services, as well as birth parent, agency and attorney expenses, among other things.
It’s important to note that while there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of non-relative domestic adoptions completed over the past decade, there’s been no reduction in the number of American families looking to adopt infants via domestic adoption. In fact, some figures estimate that only 18,000 infants are adopted by non-relatives in the U.S. every year, and there are 36 waiting families for every one child who is placed.
Finally, wait times for families looking to adopt domestically can vary greatly depending on several factors including openness of the adoptive family regarding race and background of the child, the amount of contact they are willing to engage in with birth parents and ultimately, what expectant parents are looking for in an adoptive family for their baby. In Texas, most adoptions are finalized in court approximately six months after the baby is placed in the adoptive home at the conclusion of a period of post-placement supervision.
International adoption, also known as intercountry adoption, is the process of a family adopting an eligible child or children from a country outside of their own.
When a family considers international adoption, the first decision they must make is identifying from which country they hope to adopt. This is a vital first step because everything about the adoption process varies from one country to another. For example, dossier documents, wait times, the matching process, post-placement reporting requirements and many other things vary depending on the country you adopt from.
Once you’ve identified the country, your next step is to find an adoption agency, often referred to as a placing agency, that has a program operating in that country. This agency will then guide you through the complex process of finalizing your adoption. From the beginning tasks of having a home study conducted, completing necessary paperwork and navigating the immigration process to meeting your child, returning home and conducting post-placement reports, the agency you choose will stand by you step by step.
While the adoption process, including its many types, can seem overwhelming, Upbring’s adoption specialists and Foster In Texas staff stand ready to guide you through it all. For more information regarding domestic and international adoption, call 1-833-80ADOPT or visit Upbring.org/Adoption. For more information about foster to adopt or straight adoption, please call 877-747-8110 or visit Upbring.org/FosterInTexas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erin Patterson, LMSW
Director of Adoption
Erin Patterson is the Director of Adoption at Upbring where she supervises international adoption, domestic infant adoption and post-adoption support services. Erin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master of Social Work with a concentration on Community Administration and Leadership and holds the certification of Licensed Master of Social Work. An Upbring employee of nearly 10 years, Erin has a background in disaster relief and adoption services in their various forms. Erin has been fortunate enough to work and travel in countries such as Ghana, South Africa and Haiti, granting a deeper understanding of the realities of adoption in developing countries. Erin now lives in Austin with her husband and two children and spends her free time cooking for a crowd.