Texas Family Code Chapter 162

TEXAS FAMILY CODE TITLE 5.
THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP AND THE SUIT AFFECTING THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP
CHAPTER 162. ADOPTION

SUBCHAPTER A. ADOPTION OF A CHILD

Sec. 162.001. WHO MAY ADOPT AND BE ADOPTED. 

(a) Subject to the requirements for standing to sue in Chapter 102, an adult may petition to adopt a child who may be adopted.

(b) A child residing in this state may be adopted if:

(1) 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;

(2) the parent whose rights have not been terminated is presently the spouse of the petitioner and the proceeding is for a stepparent adoption;

(3) the child is at least two 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; or

(4) the child is at least two 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.

(c) If an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights contains a consent for the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or a licensed child-placing agency to place the child for adoption and appoints the department or agency managing conservator of the child, further consent by the parent is not required and the adoption order shall terminate all rights of the parent without further termination proceedings.

Sec. 162.002. PREREQUSITES TO PETITION. 

(a) If a petitioner is married, both spouses must join in the petition for adoption.

(b) A petition in a suit for adoption or a suit for appointment of a nonparent managing conservator with authority to consent to adoption of a child must include: (1) a verified allegation that there has been compliance with Subchapter B ; or (2) if there has not been compliance with Subchapter B, a verified statement of the particular reasons for noncompliance.

Sec. 162.025. ADOPTION SOUGHT BY MILITARY SERVICE MEMBER.

In a suit for adoption, the fact that a petitioner is a member of the armed forces of the United States, a member of the Texas National Guard or the National Guard of another state, or a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States may not be considered by the court, or any person performing a social study or home screening, as a negative factor in determining whether the adoption is in the best interest of the child or whether the petitioner would be a suitable parent.

Sec. 162.003. PRE-ADOPTIVE AND POST-PLACEMENT SOCIAL STUDIES.

In a suit for adoption, pre-adoptive and post-placement social studies must be conducted as provided in Chapter 107.

Sec. 162.045. PREFERENTIAL SETTING.

The court shall grant a motion for a preferential setting for a final hearing on an adoption and shall give precedence to that hearing over all other civil cases not given preference by other law if the social study has been filed and the criminal history for the person seeking to adopt the child has been obtained.

Sec. 162.005. PREPARATION OF HEALTH, SOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND GENETIC HISTORY REPORT.

(a) This section does not apply to an adoption by the child’s:

(1) grandparent;

(2) aunt or uncle by birth, marriage, or prior adoption; or

(3) stepparent.

(b) Before placing a child for adoption, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, a licensed child-placing agency, or the child’s parent or guardian shall compile a report on the available health, social, educational, and genetic history of the child to be adopted.

(c) The report shall include a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse suffered by the child, if any.

(d) If the child has been placed for adoption by a person or entity other than the department, a licensed child-placing agency, or the child’s parent or guardian, it is the duty of the person or entity who places the child for adoption to prepare the report.

(e) The person or entity who places the child for adoption shall provide the prospective adoptive parents a copy of the report as early as practicable before the first meeting of the adoptive parents with the child. The copy of the report shall be edited to protect the identity of birth parents and their families.

(f) The department, licensed child-placing agency, parent, guardian, person, or entity who prepares and files the original report is required to furnish supplemental medical, psychological, and psychiatric information to the adoptive parents if that information becomes available and to file the supplemental information where the original report is filed. The supplemental information shall be retained for as long as the original report is required to be retained.

Sec. 162.006. RIGHT TO EXAMINE RECORDS.

(a) The department, licensed child-placing agency, person, or entity placing a child for adoption shall inform the prospective adoptive parents of their right to examine the records and other information relating to the history of the child. The person or entity placing the child for adoption shall edit the records and information to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential.

(b) The department, licensed child-placing agency, or court retaining a copy of the report shall provide a copy of the report that has been edited to protect the identity of the birth parents and any other person whose identity is confidential to the following persons on request:

(1) an adoptive parent of the adopted child;

(2) the managing conservator, guardian of the person, or legal custodian of the adopted child;

(3) the adopted child, after the child is an adult;

(4) the surviving spouse of the adopted child if the adopted child is dead and the spouse is the parent or guardian of a child of the deceased adopted child; or

(5) a progeny of the adopted child if the adopted child is dead and the progeny is an adult.

(c) A copy of the report may not be furnished to a person who cannot furnish satisfactory proof of identity and legal entitlement to receive a copy.

(d) A person requesting a copy of the report shall pay the actual and reasonable costs of providing a copy and verifying entitlement to the copy.

(e) The report shall be retained for 99 years from the date of the adoption by the department or licensed child-placing agency placing the child for adoption. If the agency ceases to function as a child-placing agency, the agency shall transfer all the reports to the department or, after giving notice to the department, to a transferee agency that is assuming responsibility for the preservation of the agency’s adoption records. If the child has not been placed for adoption by the department or a licensed child-placing agency and if the child is being adopted by a person other than the child’s stepparent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle by birth, marriage, or prior adoption, the person or entity who places the child for adoption shall file the report with the department, which shall retain the copies for 99 years from the date of the adoption.

Sec. 162.0065. EDITING ADOPTION RECORDS IN DEPARTMENT PLACEMENT.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, in an adoption in which a child is placed for adoption by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, the department is not required to edit records to protect the identity of birth parents and other persons whose identity is confidential if the department determines that information is already known to the adoptive parents or is readily available through other sources, including the court records of a suit to terminate the parent-child relationship under Chapter 161.

Sec. 162.007. CONTENTS OF HEALTH, SOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND GENETIC HISTORY REPORT.

(a) The health history of the child must include information about:

(1) the child’s health status at the time of placement;

(2) the child’s birth, neonatal, and other medical, psychological, psychiatric, and dental history information;

(3) a record of immunizations for the child; and

(4) the available results of medical, psychological, psychiatric, and dental examinations of the child.

(b) The social history of the child must include information, to the extent known, about past and existing relationships between the child and the child’s siblings, parents by birth, extended family, and other persons who have had physical possession of or legal access to the child.

(c) The educational history of the child must include, to the extent known, information about:

(1) the enrollment and performance of the child in educational institutions;

(2) results of educational testing and standardized tests for the child; and

(3) special educational needs, if any, of the child.

(d) The genetic history of the child must include a description of the child’s parents by birth and their parents, any other child born to either of the child’s parents, and extended family members and must include, to the extent the information is available, information about:

(1) their health and medical history, including any genetic diseases and disorders;

(2) their health status at the time of placement;

(3) the cause of and their age at death;

(4) their height, weight, and eye and hair color;

(5) their nationality and ethnic background;

(6) their general levels of educational and professional achievements, if any;

(7) their religious backgrounds, if any;

(8) any psychological, psychiatric, or social evaluations, including the date of the evaluation, any diagnosis, and a summary of any findings;

(9) any criminal conviction records relating to a misdemeanor or felony classified as an offense against the person or family or public indecency or a felony violation of a statute intended to control the possession or distribution of a substance included in Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code; and

(10) any information necessary to determine whether the child is entitled to or otherwise eligible for state or federal financial, medical, or other assistance.

Sec. 162.008. FILING OF HEALTH, SOCIAL, EDUCATIONAL, AND GENETIC HISTORY REPORT.  (a) This section does not apply to an adoption by the child’s: (1) grandparent; (2) aunt or uncle by birth, marriage, or prior adoption; or (3) stepparent.  (b) A petition for adoption may not be granted until the following documents have been filed: (1) a copy of the health, social, educational, and genetic history report signed by the child’s adoptive parents; and (2) if the report is required to be submitted to the bureau of vital statistics under Section 162.006(e), a certificate from the bureau acknowledging receipt of the report.  (c) A court having jurisdiction of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship may by order waive the making and filing of a report under this section if the child’s biological parents cannot be located and their absence results in insufficient information being available to compile the report.

Sec. 162.0085. CRIMINAL HISTORY REPORT REQUIRED.  (a) In a suit affecting the parent-child relationship in which an adoption is sought, the court shall order each person seeking to adopt the child to obtain that person’s own criminal history record information. The court shall accept under this section a person’s criminal history record information that is provided by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services or by a licensed child-placing agency that received the information from the department if the information was obtained not more than one year before the date the court ordered the history to be obtained.  (b) A person required to obtain information under Subsection (a) shall obtain the information in the manner provided by Section 411.128, Government Code.

Sec. 162.009. RESIDENCE WITH PETITIONER.  (a) The court may not grant an adoption until the child has resided with the petitioner for not less than six months.  (b) On request of the petitioner, the court may waive the residence requirement if the waiver is in the best interest of the child.

Sec. 162.010. CONSENT REQUIRED.  (a) Unless the managing conservator is the petitioner, the written consent of a managing conservator to the adoption must be filed. The court may waive the requirement of consent by the managing conservator if the court finds that the consent is being refused or has been revoked without good cause. A hearing on the issue of consent shall be conducted by the court without a jury.  (b) If a parent of the child is presently the spouse of the petitioner, that parent must join in the petition for adoption and further consent of that parent is not required.  (c) A child 12 years of age or older must consent to the adoption in writing or in court. The court may waive this requirement if it would serve the child’s best interest.

Sec. 162.011. REVOCATION OF CONSENT. At any time before an order granting the adoption of the child is rendered, a consent required by Section 162.010 may be revoked by filing a signed revocation.

Sec. 162.012. DIRECT OR COLLATERAL ATTACK.  (a) Notwithstanding Rule 329, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the validity of an adoption order is not subject to attack after six months after the date the order was signed.  (b) The validity of a final adoption order is not subject to attack because a health, social, educational, and genetic history was not filed.

Sec. 162.013. ABATEMENT OR DISMISSAL.  (a) If the sole petitioner dies or the joint petitioners die, the court shall dismiss the suit for adoption.  (b) If one of the joint petitioners dies, the proceeding shall continue uninterrupted.  (c) If the joint petitioners divorce, the court shall abate the suit for adoption. The court shall dismiss the petition unless the petition is amended to request adoption by one of the original petitioners.

Sec. 162.014. ATTENDANCE AT HEARING REQUIRED.  (a) If the joint petitioners are husband and wife and it would be unduly difficult for one of the petitioners to appear at the hearing, the court may waive the attendance of that petitioner if the other spouse is present.  (b) A child to be adopted who is 12 years of age or older shall attend the hearing. The court may waive this requirement in the best interest of the child.

Sec. 162.015. RACE OR ETHNICITY.  (a) In determining the best interest of the child, the court may not deny or delay the adoption or otherwise discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity of the child or the prospective adoptive parents.(b) This section does not apply to a person, entity, tribe, organization, or child custody proceeding subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. Section 1901 et seq.). In this subsection “child custody proceeding” has the meaning provided by 25 U.S.C. Section 1903.

Sec. 162.016. ADOPTION ORDER.  (a) If a petition requesting termination has been joined with a petition requesting adoption, the court shall also terminate the parent-child relationship at the same time the adoption order is rendered. The court must make separate findings that the termination is in the best interest of the child and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. (b) If the court finds that the requirements for adoption have been met and the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the court shall grant the adoption. (c) The name of the child may be changed in the order if requested.

Sec. 162.017. EFFECT OF ADOPTION.  (a) An order of adoption creates the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parent and the child for all purposes. (b) An adopted child is entitled to inherit from and through the child’s adoptive parents as though the child were the biological child of the parents. (c) The terms “child,” “descendant,” “issue,” and other terms indicating the relationship of parent and child include an adopted child unless the context or express language clearly indicates otherwise. (d) Nothing in this chapter precludes or affects the rights of a biological or adoptive maternal or paternal grandparent to reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild, as provided in Chapter 153.

Sec. 162.018. ACCESS TO INFORMATION.  (a) The adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of the records and other information relating to the history of the child maintained by the department, licensed child-placing agency, person, or entity placing the child for adoption. (b) The adoptive parents and the adopted child, after the child is an adult, are entitled to receive copies of the records that have been edited to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential and other information relating to the history of the child maintained by the department, licensed child-placing agency, person, or entity placing the child for adoption. (c) It is the duty of the person or entity placing the child for adoption to edit the records and information to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential. (d) At the time an adoption order is rendered, the court shall provide to the parents of an adopted child information provided by the bureau of vital statistics that describes the functions of the voluntary adoption registry under Subchapter E. The licensed child-placing agency shall provide to each of the child’s biological parents known to the agency, the information when the parent signs an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights or affidavit of waiver of interest in a child. The information shall include the right of the child or biological parent to refuse to participate in the registry. If the adopted child is 14 years old or older the court shall provide the information to the child.

Sec. 162.020. WITHDRAWAL OR DENIAL OF PETITION.  If a petition requesting adoption is withdrawn or denied, the court may order the removal of the child from the proposed adoptive home if removal is in the child’s best interest and may enter any order necessary for the welfare of the child.

Sec. 162.021. SEALING FILE. (a) The court, on the motion of a party or on the court’s own motion, may order the sealing of the file and the minutes of the court, or both, in a suit requesting an adoption. (b) Rendition of the order does not relieve the clerk from the duty to send information regarding adoption to the bureau of vital statistics as required by this sub-chapter and Chapter 108.

Sec. 162.022. CONFIDENTIALITY MAINTAINED BY CLERK. The records concerning a child maintained by the district clerk after entry of an order of adoption are confidential. No person is entitled to access to the records or may obtain information from the records except for good cause under an order of the court that issued the order.

Sec. 162.023. ADOPTION ORDER FROM FOREIGN COUNTRY. (a) Except as otherwise provided by law, an adoption order rendered to a resident of this state that is made by a foreign country shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of this state and enforced as if the order were rendered by a court in this state unless the adoption law or process of the foreign country violates the fundamental principles of human rights or the laws or public policy of this state. (b) A person who adopts a child in a foreign country may register the order in this state. A petition for registration of a foreign adoption order may be combined with a petition for a name change. If the court finds that the foreign adoption order meets the requirements of Subsection (a), the court shall order the state registrar to: (1) register the order under Chapter 192, Health and Safety Code; and (2) file a certificate of birth for the child under Section 192.006, Health and Safety Code.

Sec. 162.025. PLACEMENT BY UNAUTHORIZED PERSON; OFFENSE. (a) A person who is not the natural or adoptive parent of the child, the legal guardian of the child, or a child-placing agency licensed under Chapter 42, Human Resources Code, commits an offense if the person: (1) serves as an intermediary between a prospective adoptive parent and an expectant parent or parent of a minor child to identify the parties to each other; or (2) places a child for adoption. (b) It is not an offense under this section if a professional provides legal or medical services to: (1) a parent who identifies the prospective adoptive parent and places the child for adoption without the assistance of the professional; or (2) a prospective adoptive parent who identifies a parent and receives placement of a child for adoption without the assistance of the professional. (c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

 

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