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Family Law

Updated:

July 11, 2022

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LGBT Adoption in Texas: Can Same-Sex Couples Adopt?

Yes, same-sex couples can legally adopt children in Texas - with no marriage or partnership required. Adoption by same-sex couples is legal and welcomed in all 50 states. In cases of open adoptions, many birth parents today specifically select gay adoptive parents because they are empathetic, accepting, and loving.

However, despite fewer legal barriers than years ago and gay adoption being more common than ever, same-sex couples pursuing LGBT adoption are not guaranteed an easy path, and may still face challenges with working with faith-based adoption agencies, or in s international adoption situations.

An experienced and understanding LGBT family law attorney in Texas can advocate for you and protect your rights should you face a myriad of issues. In the last several decades, support and acceptance for gay couple adoption, same-sex adoption, and LGBT adoption rights have increased significantly.

LGBTQ Adoption in Texas - Particularities 

Families today are more diverse and unique than ever - and same-sex couples are more likely to be raising foster children and adopted children than heterosexual couples. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) couples, adoption is the best way to realize dreams of having a family. Same-sex couples have historically faced unique and complex legal issues with adopting children. 

When Were Gay Couples Able To Adopt in Texas? 

Married couples, whether same-sex, trans, cisgender, or opposite-sex couples, can adopt as a couple, as long as they are legally married. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, same-sex couples can also enter into a common-law marriage in Texas. Where common-law marriage is not elected, adoptions involving unmarried same-sex couples may require each parent to go through the adoption process individually, with a minimum 6-month delay between adoptions. 

Types of LGBT Adoption 

lgbtq adoption rights

Parentage is the recognition of a parent’s legal relationship with a child. It can be established biologically without legal action. In gay couples, same-sex parentage can be established via various types of adoption. Custody rights are important - and although parents value their children far more than an asset, they don’t always consider the need for legal adoption when one parent is the biological parent.

Joint Adoption

Joint adoption occurs when two parents adopt a child at the same time. With Texas’ marriage equality, same-sex couples are to be treated equally to same-sex couples in adoption petitions, as long as they meet the basic requirements to petition for adoption.

Second Parent Adoption

A second-parent adoption, sometimes called a co-parent adoption, involves a second parent adopting their partner’s biological child as a second child. 

Step-Parent Adoption

The most common type of adoption, stepparent adoption is the adoption of a child by the spouse of the child’s biological or legal parent. In Texas, the child’s other parent must consent to the adoption, and any other legal parent must surrender rights to the child in writing. 

Single-Parent Adoption

A single parent can adopt a child as long as they meet the basic requirements of the state of Texas for foster or adoptive families. This study is the same for LGTQ families as it is for single adopters or opposite-sex couples. 

International and Domestic LGBT Adoption

Domestic LGBT adoption is legal in all 50 states, but many gay couples ask “can gay couples adopt a child internationally?”. LGBT families may be able to adopt through an international adoption agency, however, many countries do not permit gay families to adopt. Some countries, like Colombia and Brazil, allow international gay adoption. Other countries, like the Philippines, allow one adult to complete an international adoption and then their partners (second parents) can complete a second-parent adoption in the United States.

Private and Foster Care LGBT Adoption

Gay couples can adopt children through privately arranged adoptions, such as through one of many child placing agencies (CPAs) in Texas. LGBT foster parents can also adopt children they are fostering if termination of legal parental rights is in the best interests of the children.

When one parent is a biological parent, a second parent adoption may feel like an expensive legal procedure just to be recognized as a parent. And while it may not be legally necessary, adoption is important legal protection for a family. Unfortunately, LGBTQ couples are not immune from divorce and adoption will establish equal rights for a divorcing couple needing to work through custody matters. 

LGBT Adoption Challenges in Texas: Are Gay Couples Allowed to Adopt?

The challenges that gay couples face with adoption are not overarching prohibitions, but rather dealing with specific and unique circumstances. Below are some frequently asked questions about LGBT adoptions: 

Can Gay People Adopt Infants or Newborns in Texas? 

Yes, gay and LGBT couples can adopt a newborn or infant in Texas. The process should not be any different for gay couples than for opposite-sex couples. 

Is the LGBT Adoption Process Longer and More Difficult than for Opposite-Sex Couples? 

No, the adoption process should not take any longer or be more difficult for same-sex couples than for opposite-sex couples. 

What Is a Home Study and Is It Obligatory? 

One of the requirements for foster placement or adoption in Texas is a home study which includes visits with all household members. This is required for all families.

Do Gay Parents Experience Discrimination in Texas? 

Gay parents can foster and adopt children in Texas. Texas, along with some other states, does allow adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funding to deny adoptions by LGBT or unmarried couples on grounds of "sincerely held religious beliefs”. Similar legislation exists in other states. 

Do Children of LGBT Adoptive Parents Have Different Childhood Experiences? 

Children certainly have different experiences from one home to another, but LGBT and same-sex parent families can provide a safe, loving environment for children just as any family with opposite-sex parents. Same-sex couples are loving, empathetic parents, and tend to have a high level of commitment and involvement. Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who is frequently quoted on gay and lesbian parenting issues, stated that “gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident”. 

Speak with an LGBTQ Family Law Attorney 

If you have questions about gay couple adoption in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, consult a family lawyer at Brooks & Radchenko. We are well versed in LGBTQ family law and same-sex adoption laws in Texas and can provide one-on-one guidance for your unique family situation. Contact us to arrange a free consultation.

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