What is ICWA and What are the Legal Requirements?

If there’s a possibility that you will adopt a baby of Native American descent, it’s important to be familiar with the ins and outs of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA.

ICWA was enacted in 1978 in response to the number of Native American children who were being removed from their homes and placed with non-Native adoptive and foster families. This removal threatened the cultural heritage of these children, and Native tribes needed a Native American adoption law that would protect these children and their cultural knowledge.  ICWA was passed to preserve Native American culture by giving Native American tribes legal authority in the adoption of Native children.

The ICWA Process

So, how does the ICWA law work?

If you are matched with a prospective birth parent who is a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe and whose child will have eligibility for membership in that tribe, ICWA requirements will apply. Likewise, if you choose to adopt a child from foster care who is a registered member of a tribe, you will also need to complete the ICWA process. Being a member of a tribe (or being eligible for membership) is what determines ICWA requirements, not just having Native American heritage.

ICWA requires that states make an “active effort” to reunify Native American families who have entered the welfare system and prevent the removal of Native American children from their native household. Usually, this means tribe leaders will prioritize placing a child with a member of their biological family or a member of their tribe to preserve their cultural heritage.

However, know that just because a child’s situation requires ICWA processes doesn’t mean that a non-Native adoption is impossible. Many tribes will allow a child to be adopted by a non-Native family as long as their cultural heritage is maintained. Don’t let ICWA law deter you from wanting to adopt a child of Native American descent.

Preserving Your Child’s Culture

But if you’re not of Native American descent yourself, how do you help preserve your child’s culture? While ICWA adoptions can seem legally complicated at times, they are equally helpful in establishing contact between non-Native adoptive families and tribal leaders. This way, you can learn as much as you can about your child’s heritage and properly incorporate it into their lives as they grow up.

We encourage all who complete an ICWA adoption to maintain a relationship with their child’s tribe even after the legal process is complete. This way, you can keep your child connected to their heritage and help them get answers to any questions they have. Staying connected to their tribe allows adopted Native American children to interact with tribal role models and make their cultural heritage an important part of their identity.

Because of the possible legal complexities of this kind of adoption, you will need to work with an experienced lawyer to make sure you comply with all of the ICWA requirements and other state laws to bring your child home with you safely.

The lawyers at Brown Pruitt can help you through your Native American adoption and any subsequent legal processes. To learn more about our available services, please contact us today.


What is ICPC, and How Will It Affect My Texas Adoption?

As you’ve been researching adoption for your family, you may have read about something called ICPC, or the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. With many adoptive families and prospective birth mothers completing interstate adoptions, this legal process is common today. If you end up working with a prospective birth mother who lives outside of Texas, you’ll become familiar with this process and all of the regulations and requirements associated with it.

As experienced adoption attorneys, we can answer any questions you might have about the ICPC process in Texas and other states. Because it’s solely a legal process, it’s necessary that you work closely with your adoption attorney to ensure your adoption is completed legally and safely — and that you can bring your adopted baby home as quickly as possible.

Prospective adoptive families like you often have some common questions about adopting out of state and the ICPC requirements, so we’ve answered some of them below.

1. What is the meaning of ICPC?

ICPC is short for “Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.” It’s an agreement between all 50 statesthat sets certain standards for adoptions, making sure that every adoption completed across state lines is conducted with the safety of the child in mind. This is one of the few federal laws enacted that regulates U.S. domestic adoption.

2. How does the ICPC process work?

The ICPC process involves communication between the birth mother’s state of residence and an adoptive family’s state of residence. It’s primarily conducted between lawyers and ICPC offices; adoptive parents are not actively involved in the process. Before a baby can leave his or her birth state, the ICPC paperwork must be cleared by both states.

After your baby is discharged from the hospital in their birth state, this means you cannot leave that state until you get ICPC clearance. How does this happen? Your attorney or adoption agency will collect the required ICPC paperwork and send it to the ICPC office in the birth mother’s state. Once the office approves the ICPC paperwork there, it will be forwarded to the Texas ICPC office, which will then approve the paperwork or request additional documentation. After the state of Texas approves the ICPC paperwork, your attorney or agency will be notified and you’ll be free to bring your baby back home to Texas.

3. How long does the ICPC process take?

The ICPC process can be one of the most frustrating parts of the adoption process for adoptive families, as there is little to nothing they can do to influence the time they have to wait. Each ICPC process will take a different amount of time to complete based on several factors:

  • How long a birth mother takes to sign her adoption consent (waiting periods vary based on state laws)
  • How long it takes your attorney to gather the proper documentation
  • The hours of each ICPC office
  • Governmental offices’ processing time

To be safe, it’s best that a prospective adoptive family plans on staying in their child’s birth state for 2–3 weeks. While it can cause anxiety to wait around for approval, it is also a great chance for adoptive parents to bond with their new baby and explore the city where their child’s birth mother is from.

4. How can we speed up the ICPC process?

The interstate adoption process can seem long and frustrating at times, but there are some key things to keep in mind to make sure your interstate adoption proceeds as smoothly as possible:

  • Keep your home study current to prevent any delays in the ICPC process. This is often the first piece of documentation needed to start the legal back-and-forth.
  • Don’t contact your ICPC Most offices prohibit adoptive parents from contacting them directly, so just stay in touch with your adoption attorney — they’ll provide you current information as soon as they receive it.
  • Plan ahead — make arrangements for work, childcare and pet-care (if necessary), and think about what you’ll do if the ICPC process takes longer than anticipated. Having a plan in place will help make your waiting period less stressful.
  • Focus on bonding with your new baby and creating your new family while you’re waiting for ICPC While the process can be taxing at times, remember that what really matters is the little bundle of joy that you have now.

While ICPC can be a long process, when you work with the law offices of Brown Pruitt, we’ll make sure you receive all the education and assistance you need to feel prepared for an out-of-state adoption in Texas. Our experienced lawyers will also work tirelessly to ensure your ICPC process is completed legally, smoothly and as quickly as possible.

To learn more about how we can help with your interstate adoption, please contact us today.


Is a Transracial Adoption in Texas Right for You?

When you’re considering what kind of adoption situations you’re comfortable with, you may be thinking about a transracial adoption in Texas. If you’re like many adoptive parents, what your future child looks like doesn’t matter to you — even if your child is of a different race or culture, you’re ready to take whatever steps necessary to bring them home into your family.

However, if you are interested in an interracial adoption, there are some important things to know before committing to this adoption process. Race and culture play a large part in someone’s identity, and when you raise a child of a different culture than your own, you’ll need to take critical steps to preserve their cultural identity at the same time that you make them a permanent member of your family.

What is Transracial Adoption?

An interracial or biracial adoption is when a family adopts a child of a different race. This can be accomplished in a private domestic infant adoption, a foster care adoption or an international adoption — and each process requires different considerations. Whereas transracial adoptions were rare in the first half of the 20th century, they’ve gained immense popularity over the years as families have decided that they don’t need a child who “looks like them” — just one that they can love forever.

How Do I Know if a Transracial Adoption is Right for Me?

While all adoptions can be difficult at times, transracial adoptions in Texas and throughout the South can bring their own challenges. You’ll need to fully commit to the process and the additional parenting steps required.

Generally, if you are someone who wants to create a multicultural household and will adopt without regard to race or physical similarities, a transracial adoption might be right for you — as long as you’re ready to put in the extra effort to successfully raise a child of another race and culture.

What Should I Consider About Transracial Adoption?

There are usually no additional legal steps or requirements involved in an interracial adoption (unless you are adopting a Native American child who’s a part of a tribe). If you’re completing a transracial adoption abroad, you’ll need to adhere to the regulations of the country that you’re adopting from. You’ll also need to consider any language or culture barriers that could result from adopting a child from another country.

Most of all, you’ll need to consider how you will preserve your child’s culture and heritage in a transracial adoption. While the color of your child’s skin will not impact your family bond, it will make a difference in how they perceive the world, and you need to make sure you address that properly as they grow up.

Here are some suggestions for transracial adoptive families to consider:

  • Learn. The first thing you’ll need to do is become educated about their culture and heritage yourself. By doing this, you can more easily incorporate these aspects into their life. Tell traditional stories, make traditional food and celebrate holidays that all play a large role in their heritage. At the same time that you are normalizing their adoption, allow them to be proud of the culture and heritage that they came from.
  • Build a Community. You’ll need to consider whether you can provide the role models and peer support that your child will need. For example, if you choose to raise a black child in a white family, you’ll need to seek out black role models and diverse school communities and sports teams. As they grow up, having a role model of their own race will play a huge part in their understanding of their identity as a multicultural person. It’s also a good idea to surround your child with as much diversity as possible, no matter the race, as it promotes tolerance and acceptance. Your child will know that you see them as your child no matter their race, but it’s equally important for them to know you are proud of what their heritage is, as well.
  • Talk to Your Child. While race likely won’t matter within your immediate family, you can’t pretend that it doesn’t play an important role in the rest of society. Instill a sense of belonging in your child from the beginning, but also talk to them about racism and the effects it may have on them. Give them suggestions for answering unwanted, insensitive questions, and emphasize the positivity of their adoption story.

Interracial adoptions can be difficult at times, but as the United States continues to become more multicultural, these challenges can be more easily overcome. Being a parent in a transracial adoption is just another unique way of creating the perfect family for you. If you’re interested in a transracial adoption in Texas, you should research by talking to other multicultural adoptive families and professionals and checking out transracial adoption blogs like My Real Kid to get a true sense of the experience awaiting you.

The law firm of Brown Pruitt is always ready to help you complete the legal process of your interracial adoption in Texas. To learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today.


5 Signs That You’re Ready to Adopt

If you’re like many hopeful parents, you’ve gone through a long process to try to bring a little bundle of joy into your life. Perhaps you’ve faced infertility struggles, waited in vain for your perfect partner to come along or simply spent some time wondering whether parenthood is really right for you.

No matter how you got here, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably considering adoption as a way to finally become a parent. Congratulations — even thinking about adoption is the first step toward your new life as a family.

However, you know that adoption is a huge commitment, and you may be wondering whether you’re really ready to take that step. While you can find information and advice from many adoption professionals (including Brown Pruitt), the decision to choose adoption will ultimately be up to you.

Here are some signs that you might be ready to start your own adoption process.

1. You’ve Done the Research.

Adoption is not always an easy process; there are many important steps to take to make it successful for all involved. Before you enter the adoption process, therefore, you’ll need to understand exactly what’s ahead. Adoption is not right for everyone, so by reading information and talking to professionals about adoption before making that commitment, you’ll better understand whether it’s the right choice for you.

2. You’ve Set Your Adoption Goals.

While you will work closely with your chosen adoption professional to make an adoption plan that works for you, it’s important to decide on the basics of your adoption plan before you begin. That means deciding whether you want to pursue a private infant adoption, a foster care adoption, an international adoption or another kind of adoption.

The questions you may want to ask yourself are: Do I want to adopt an older or younger child? What about a child who’s of a different race than me? What kind of contact do I want to have with my child’s birth parents? If you’ve been thinking about these questions as you’re considering adoption, it’s usually a great sign that you’re committed to the idea and ready to move forward with the process.

3. You’ve Accepted Your Infertility.

Not everyone who chooses adoption has always planned on adopting a child. Many couples face infertility before going the adoption path, while other single people may have held out hope for meeting “the one” and having biological children. If you approach the adoption process after a disappointment like this, it’s important that you’ve fully moved forward from this challenge in your life.

If you still harbor dreams of a biological child, it won’t be fair to you or the child that you adopt. You should take time to properly grieve your lost dreams and fully commit to the adoption process and loving an adopted child just as much as you would a biological child. As most parents discover, it’s not being pregnant or having a biological child that matters to them — it’s becoming parents and adding to their family in whatever way they can.

4. You’ve Financially and Emotionally Prepared for the Adoption Process.

While research is a great place to start before the adoption process, you’ll also need to take additional steps before you work with an adoption professional. First off, adoption can be an expensive process, so many hopeful parents have to plan for the financing of their adoption (through options like savings accounts, loans, fundraising and more).

Secondly, adoption is an emotionally complicated process with many highs and lows as you wait to be matched with a prospective birth mother, wait for her to give birth and then wait for her to sign her adoption consent. You should be prepared for any challenges that arise and have a support system of friends and family to lean on. Adoption is a commitment you that you should only make if you’re 100 percent comfortable with the process.

5. You’re Ready for a Child, No Matter What it Takes.

As mentioned above, adoption can be a complicated process — which is why you need to be committed from the very beginning. One of the biggest signs that you’re ready for adoption is that the potential challenges don’t deter you. If you’re truly ready to become parents through adoption, you’re ready to face any difficulties you encounter, because you know it will all be worth it in the end when you have your perfect little bundle of joy.

Deciding that adoption is right for you may take some time — but don’t rush into the process until you’re sure you’re ready to start it. For more information on adoption in Texas, please contact us at 817-338-4888.


4 Signs that Independent Adoption Might be Right for You

While many hopeful adoptive parents in Texas work with a matching professional like an adoption agency, you also have the option of working solely with an attorney to complete your adoption. This is known as an independent adoption.

Adoption attorneys in Texas cannot match you with a prospective birth mother, which is why many families choose to work with a licensed agency. But, if you already have a prospective birth mother in mind and simply need to complete the legal steps, a private adoption in Texas may be best for you.

But, how do you decide whether an adoption without an agency is right for you? Here are some good reasons that you might want to pursue an independent adoption in Texas as a prospective adoptive family:

1. You want to find a prospective birth mother on your own.

When you work with an adoption agency, your professional will handle your matching process from start to finish. For some adoptive parents, waiting for a match and not being able to do anything about it is too difficult — so they choose to actively search for a birth mother on their own in an independent adoption.

Finding a prospective birth mother on your own can be a complicated process, but it may end up reducing your wait time.

2. You’ve already found a prospective birth mother.

On the other hand, if you’ve already found a prospective birth mother who’s agreed to place her baby for adoption with you, you may not need the services an adoption agency provides. While it’s still encouraged that you work with a social worker to make sure you and your prospective birth mother are committed and prepared for the adoption process (not to mention to complete the proper background screenings), you will be able to move forward with the legal process with an attorney instead of an adoption agency.

3. You’re willing to handle the majority of the adoption process.

When you decide to complete an adoption without an agency, you also decide not to receive many of those services they provide, including counseling, screening, mediation and more. You may choose independent adoption if you feel comfortable handling these responsibilities on your own. That means being there as an emotional counsel for the prospective birth mother whenever she has concerns or questions, handling all of the communication back and forth, organizing a hospital stay and working closely with your lawyer every step of the way to ensure the proper legalities are met.

This can be overwhelming for prospective adoptive parents, so it’s important that you’re prepared for this workload should you choose an independent adoption in Texas. You may wish to reach out to trained social workers for assistance with some of these aspects of adoption.

4. You’re comfortable with a fully open adoption.

While adoption agencies can mediate your open adoption contact and give you the option of a mediated or semi-open adoption, an adoption without an agency usually does not provide you this opportunity. Because you will find and work directly with a prospective birth mother on your own, identifying information will be shared. You will have to complete an open adoption in an independent adoption because of the logistics involved.

In addition, you’ll have to handle any pre- and post-placement contact yourself. You have no agency to mediate your contact, so if you’re wary about directly maintaining a relationship with your baby’s birth mother throughout their life, you may wish to complete an agency-assisted adoption instead.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide whether you wish to pursue an agency-assisted or an independent adoption in Texas. If you choose an independent adoption, you should be aware of the commitment involved. To learn more about how an independent adoption works with the law firm of Brown Pruitt, please contact us today.


What to Know About Special Needs Adoption in Texas

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent or adopting a child from the foster care system, you may have heard that most of these children fit into the category of “special needs.” If you’re accustomed to society’s usual definition of this term, you might think the only children available to adopt have serious physical, mental, medical or developmental disabilities.

However, a “special needs” adoption means something much different than what society’s general definition of the term means. “Special needs,” when referring to adoption, simply means any child who is less likely to get adopted than other children because of a certain aspect they can’t control.

Generally, there are a few traits that can cause a child to be categorized as having “special needs”:

  • They are non-white
  • They are older than a certain age (in Texas, this is 6 years)
  • They are part of a sibling group
  • They have developmental, emotional or physical disabilities

As you can see, “special needs” can mean a variety of things — and, as long as you’re prepared for the trait that makes a child fit this description, adopting a special needs child in Texas really isn’t all that different from adopting any other child.

All prospective foster parents and adoptive parents must go through specific trainings if they plan to find a child placement through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and many of these trainings address the unique needs of children you may wish to adopt. This includes everything from the logistics of adopting a teenager to preparing for a transracial adoption and more. Your social worker from the child welfare agency you choose will also likely be able to provide you extra resources, should you need them.

It’s important to note that a special needs adoption in Texas doesn’t have to be completed through the foster care system; you may choose to adopt a special needs child through a private domestic infant adoption or through an international adoption. In addition, you may be able to receive financial assistance for a special needs adoption in Texas.

State Assistance for Special Needs Adoption

There are many children waiting in the foster care system who can be described as special needs — and, therefore, are much less likely to get adopted. That’s why many states, including Texas, offer families assistance with their adoption expenses if they choose to adopt one of these children. Additionally, the adoption subsidy may be available to some families pursuing special needs adoption through an agency.

In Texas, adoptive parents can receive up to $1,200 per adopted child to cover the costs of non-recurring adoption expenses (usually legal fees). Combine this with the federal adoption tax credit also available and, for many adoptive families, choosing to complete a special needs adoption in Texas is very inexpensive or even free. Your child may also be eligible for state Medicaid coverage until your own family insurance takes effect.

In addition to financial assistance, the Department of Family and Protective Services offers postadoption services to those adopting a special needs child, including:

  • Case management and service planning
  • Support groups and outpatient therapy
  • Respite care
  • Information and referral to appropriate professionals
  • And more

If you are completing a private domestic infant adoption or an international adoption through an agency, your professionals there will also likely provide you some sort of training and post-adoption services. So, if you’re considering adopting a child with special needs (whether in the traditional or foster care sense of the word), seek out an adoption professional who can provide these services to you.

Remember, the law firm of Brown Pruitt and our attorneys can always answer whatever questions you have about the legal process of adopting a special needs child in Texas, whichever kind of adoption path you choose. We can also refer you to a trusted adoption matching professional to help you find the perfect adoption situation for your family. To learn more or to start your adoption process today, please give us a call at 817-338-4888.


How to Make an Adoption Profile Book: 3 Questions You Have

When you are looking for a prospective birth mother to adopt from in Texas, it can seem overwhelming to find the perfect adoption opportunity for your family. While your matching professional will help you through every step of this searching process, there is also an important step that you’ll be responsible for: making your adoption profile book.

An adoption profile book, or an adoptive family profile, is a way for you to make a positive impression on a prospective birth mother before even meeting her in person. Many times, a prospective birth mother decides on a family because of their adoptive family profile — so it’s obviously a key part of your matching process.

Depending on the adoption matching professional you choose, you may or may not have assistance from them to complete your adoption profile design. Whether you have full responsibility for completing your adoption profile book or you choose to work with a professional, you will likely have some questions about how to make an adoption profile book that will get you noticed by the right prospective birth mother.

1. What is included an adoptive family profile?

An adoptive family profile book is a way for a prospective birth mother to learn more about a family before she decides to meet them. Typically, these profiles serve as a “snapshot” into the family’s life, showing a pregnant woman what her child’s life would be like if she chose this family. Some common adoption profile book ideas to include are:

  • A summary of your family, including your extended family
  • A description of your house, community and neighborhood — and how it might be conducive to raising an adopted child
  • Descriptions of your family lifestyle, traditions and activities
  • Pictures of your family, your home, your community and the things you do for fun
  • A letter to prospective birth parents about why you chose adoption and how you will raise an adopted child
  • And more

One of the best ways to know what to include in your profile is by looking at adoption profile book examples. Your adoption professional may be able to show you some on file from families who have already completed their adoption process, or you can find examples online.

2. How do I make my adoption profile design?

Certain adoption professionals may have standards they want you to meet when it comes to your adoption profile design but, generally, these print profiles are completed in a flyer or book format (you may also complete online or video profiles with your adoption professional, as well).

Some adoption agencies may have media professionals on staff that can complete your design for you, while others may suggest outside design professionals like My Adoption Advisor. You can also make your adoption profile design yourself; many families use services like Shutterfly to put together a beautiful adoptive family profile for prospective birth mothers to view.

However you end up making your adoptive family profile, make sure you follow your matching professional’s requirements and pay attention to the advice they give you on how to make an adoption profile book that stands out to a prospective birth mother.

3. What are some tips for making the perfect adoptive family profile?

First, it’s important to recognize that there is no one way to make a “perfect” adoption profile. Because each family is so unique, so is each adoptive family profile. Try not to focus on what you think a prospective birth mother will want to see; focus on representing who your family really is and what makes you unique, and the right prospective birth mother will choose you.

That being said, there are some general tips and guidance that you should pay attention to when you’re working on your adoption profile book.

When it comes to writing descriptions and letters, many hopeful parents wonder how to write an adoption profile that communicates their excitement while still being sensitive to a prospective birth mother’s feelings. There are few things to keep in mind:

  • Be descriptive but concise. While it’s important to explain your family and your feelings to a prospective birth mother in your letter, remember that she will likely be viewing a few profiles at a time — so don’t overwhelm her with too much text to read.
  • Remember that a prospective birth mother always has the right to change her mind about adoption. Refer to the baby as hers, and thank her for “considering” placing her child with you.
  • Be positive and gracious. While you may want to mention if infertility is the reason you’re choosing adoption, don’t focus on it — instead, talk at length about your dreams for an adopted child and how excited you are to add a child to your family through the adoption process and have a lifelong connection with a prospective birth mother.

While knowing what to write in an adoptive family profile is important, so is knowing exactly what kind of pictures to include. While you are the best judge of which pictures best represent your family and what you want a prospective birth mother to know about you, there are some things that all prospective adoptive families should consider:

  • Use pictures that are no older than three years. A prospective birth mother wants to know what your family looks like today.
  • If you’re married, don’t include photos from your wedding day. Most wedding photos tend to be older, and prospective birth mothers prefer more current pictures of hopeful adoptive parents. Additionally, in some cases, a prospective birth mother may be single or have difficult past relationships, so while this may be a happy memory for you, it could bring up negative emotions for her.
  • Use natural, candid photos. A prospective birth mother wants to see what your everyday life is like, so while it’s okay to use a professional, posed photo for your profile picture, avoid using too many photos like this. Make sure you’re dressed in everyday clothes that honestly reflect how you look on any given day.

While creating an adoption profile book can be stressful, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be “perfect” for a prospective birth mother to pick you. Pregnant women considering adoption all want different things for their babies, so don’t try to make your adoption profile design about what you think a pregnant woman might want. Just focus on accurately and honestly representing your family and your excitement for adoption, and the right prospective birth mother will eventually choose you.

Whether you’re finding a prospective birth mother through a matching professional or through an independent adoption, the law firm of Brown Pruitt can help you through all the legal aspects of your adoption. To learn more, or to be referred to a matching professional that we trust, please contact us at 817-388-4888.


How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child in Texas?

One of the biggest questions that prospective adoptive families have is, “How long does it take to adopt a baby in Texas?”

There’s no singular answer to this question, because how long adoption takes depends on several factors, including the kind of adoption you choose, your adoption preferences and many things that are out of your control. A general average adoption wait time is around a year — but, because each adoption is unique, this average may or may not be representative of your wait time.

If you’re looking to adopt now, please contact us at 817-338-4888. We can discuss your individual adoption situation with you and give you a better idea of what your adoption wait time may be based on your circumstances.

To better understand how long it takes to adopt a child in Texas, read on for more information on how your choices can affect your adoption wait time.

The Type of Adoption You Choose

Generally, when people are looking to adopt a child or baby in Texas, they do it through a private domestic infant adoption or a foster care adoption. These two processes have different legal steps you need to take, which will impact how long it will take you to adopt a baby.

Of course, no two adoptions are exactly the same, but here is a general idea of an adoption timeline with each process:

Agency Domestic Infant Adoption

  • Screening and home study: Before you can be approved to adopt, you must pass certain background checks and clearances. This includes your home study, which can take around 2–3 months to complete.
  • Matching with a prospective birth mother: If you already know a potential birth mother and want to complete an independent adoption, you won’t have to spend time waiting for a match. However, most families choose an agency domestic adoption, meaning they work with an agency to find an adoption opportunity. When working with an agency, almost half of adoptive families wait six months or less before being matched, according to a 2014–15 study by Adoptive Families magazine. If you need help finding an adoption opportunity in Texas, know that a licensed agency is the only professional that can provide matching services.
  • Placement and post-placement: How long you wait to have a child placed with you after matching will depend on how far along the prospective birth mother is in her pregnancy. Usually, you’ll wait at least a couple of months, but that may not always be the case; in the Adoptive Families study, 34 percent of families were matched with a woman less than a month before she gave birth.
  • Finalization: Your adoption is only complete once it’s legally finalized, usually about six months after placement. During this time, you’ll adjust to your life with a new baby and undergo a visit with a social worker at least five months after placement.
  • Total time: Most private domestic adoptions are completed within an average adoption wait time of 12 months.

Foster Care Adoption

  • Screening and home study: All prospective foster parents and adoptive parents are required to pass background clearances, as well as participate in training to prepare for placement of a foster child. Texas requires a 35-hour training program in addition to other certifications. This also includes a home study. Generally, this process takes six months.
  • Finding a placement: Because there are plenty of children waiting for homes in Texas, you will usually not wait long for a placement, especially if you are open to many situations. Sixty-four percent of families who adopted from foster care were matched within one year from 2014–15.
  • Waiting for an adoption opportunity: Unfortunately, one of the unknowns with foster care adoption is the availability of a child for adoption. If the child’s parents are still working toward a reunification plan, there may or may not be a timeline for that child becoming available for adoption. However, there are many children already in the foster care system who are freed for adoption — so choosing one of them will decrease this wait time. Almost half of families with a foster child placement waited 6 to 12 months after placement for an adoption finalization.

Other adoption processes, like stepparent or adult adoptions, are much less invasive processes and will take less time. An international adoption typically takes much longer — even years — because of international regulations and new restrictions from previously adoption-friendly nations.

Your Adoption Preferences

As you prepare to be matched with a prospective birth mother or a waiting child in foster care, another factor in how long it takes to adopt a child will be how specific you are in your preferences. You will have the ability to decide which situations you’re comfortable with in a prospective adopted child, including:

  • Family medical history
  • Race of the child
  • Gender
  • The child’s medical conditions
  • Post-placement contact with the child’s birth family
  • And more

While you should only be open to situations you’re comfortable with, being too restrictive in your adoption plan can impact the time you wait to be matched with an adoption opportunity. For example, if you’re only open to adopting a Caucasian child, fewer adoption opportunities will be available to you than to a family who is open to adopting a baby with a Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American or mixed racial background. You may find that as you go through your adoption preparation process and speak with an adoption professional that you’re open to more types of adoption situations than you originally thought. Education about different circumstances is key.

Circumstances Out of Your Control

While your matching professional can help you determine what other aspects may impact your adoption wait time (for example, your budget or your adoptive family profile), there are simply some circumstances that you cannot influence. For example, if you’re waiting for a private infant placement, the number of women who are considering adoption will influence how long you wait for a match and, therefore, how long it takes to adopt your baby. Similarly, if you choose to foster a child who is not yet available for adoption, you may need to wait an undetermined amount of time for parental rights to be terminated — if they are terminated at all.

In many cases, a prospective birth mother chooses families based on gut feeling, so there’s only so much that an adoptive family can do to attract her attention. If you’re entering the adoption journey asking, “How long does the adoption process take in Texas?” it’s important to remember that there are some unknowns with every kind of adoption process — and you should be comfortable with waiting more or less time than expected for your adoption placement. When you can finally adopt the perfect child, you’ll know that the wait has been worth it.

To learn more about your possible adoption wait time and how the adoption process works in Texas, please contact us today.


8 Common Adoption Myths Debunked

Adoption is a beautiful way to grow a family but, unfortunately, many people don’t understand it as well as they should. If you’re considering adopting a baby or a child from foster care, you may be unsure of what’s ahead of you. What is the process like? Is it really worth it?

Some of this wariness may come from common myths that you’ve heard about adoption. Adoption has changed a lot over the last half-century, but many people still rely on those outdated notions when they think about adoption. If you’re considering adoption, it’s important that you have the truth about what the process actually means.

To help you out, we’ve shared the truth about some of the common adoption myths you may hear:

“Adoption takes children away from their mothers — and has negative effects for all.”

First off, know that adoption is always voluntary for pregnant woman, and choosing adoption does not mean they are “giving up” their children. Instead, they are choosing to give their child the best opportunities in life by placing them in a supportive, loving home with a family who is emotionally, financially and practically prepared to raise a child. While adoption is a difficult emotional process, it’s one that the majority of birth mothers don’t regret.

In addition to a safe, stable home, adopted children today have the benefit of growing up knowing about their adoption and even having a relationship with their birth family through an open adoption. With adoption, adoptive families can finally have the child they’ve been dreaming about, and birth parents can continue with their life goals knowing their child is well-cared for.

“Birth mothers are paid to place their children for adoption.”

Pregnant women considering adoption cannot receive payment in exchange for placing a child for adoption. However, because the adoption and pregnancy process can be financially difficult for women, state laws do allow her to be paid certain expenses during her pregnancy. This includes medical, legal and counseling expenses. If she chooses to pursue an agency-assisted adoption she can also be paid a set amount of financial assistance for things like rent, groceries, transportation to appointments and more.

 “Only perfect couples can adopt a baby.”

Adoption professionals know that the only requirement to be a “perfect” family is being one that is willing to love a child with all of their heart. Every other aspect is only incidental.

That’s why, no matter whether you’re older or younger, single or married, LGBT or heterosexual, renting or homeowners, you will be able to adopt a child. As long as you pass the requirements of your adoption professional and meet all state adoption laws, it doesn’t matter who you are — just that you’re committed to adoption and to raising an adopted child with all the love and support you can give.

“The only children available for adoption are sick or have special needs.”

While there are children waiting for adoption from the foster care system who are considered “special needs,” this doesn’t always mean they have developmental disabilities or conditions. In many cases, they are just older children, are part of a sibling group or have a certain racial background. In other words, they’re completely perfect children just waiting for a home and a family to take them in.

If you’re considering a private domestic adoption, know that there are also plenty of healthy babies that are adopted each year. Many prospective birth mothers choose adoption because of their own situation, not because of a child’s medical condition or a disability they can’t manage. While prospective birth mothers come from many different situations and medical backgrounds, the vast majority of babies adopted in Texas and throughout the U.S. are perfectly healthy.

“Most birth mothers are pregnant teenagers.”

Actually, many women who choose adoption are in their 20s and 30s and already have children they are currently raising. Therefore, they know the commitment required to raise another child — and understand that it’s not possible for them at this point in their life. Of course, there are some birth mothers who are teenagers, but you should be prepared for interacting with a prospective birth mother who is between 25 and 35 years old.

“The birth mother will want her baby back and show up on your doorstep one day.”

As mentioned before, open adoption prevents situations like these because birth parents are in touch with adoptive parents (either directly or through mediated contact) for their child’s whole life. They can see their child grow up happy and healthy, and any questions they may have are answered through this communication. Many even have personal relationships with their child.

Birth mothers understand that adoption is a permanent decision; they’re advised about it by their lawyer before they sign their adoption consent. They know that they’re making the best choice for their baby and rarely regret their decision. When you work with the proper professional as adoptive parents, you can always be reassured that your baby’s birth mother thoroughly understands the consequences of her decision — and won’t be legally allowed to take her child back.

“Open adoption relationships are confusing for adopted children.”

People who are unfamiliar with how open adoption works may think that their child won’t know who their “real” parents are. This is far from the truth.

First, the term “real” enforces negative ideas about adoption. Adopted children think of their adoptive parents as simply their “parents” and their biological parents as their “birth parents.” Although they will always respect their birth parents for making the brave and selfless choice to place them for adoption, they know that a blood relationship doesn’t make a “real” family — love does, which is why they are never confused about who their parents are. Open adoption is not co-parenting, so while adoptees will have a relationship with their birth parents, it will be nothing near the relationship they have with their parents.

“It takes too long to adopt.”

How long your adoption process takes will depend on several factors: what kind of adoption process you choose, your preferences for an adopted child, your budget and more. On average, you can expect to have a child placed with you within 12 months of starting the adoption process. Of course, some international adoptions can take years of waiting, but if you’re flexible in your adoption preferences, you can expedite the waiting process by choosing foster care adoption or private domestic infant adoption.

These are only some of the misconceptions out there about adoption — and it’s clear why a misunderstanding of the process can make prospective adoptive families wary. That’s why it’s so important that you research fully if you’re considering adoption, including talking to adoption professionals to get a better idea of what the adoption process in Texas might really be like.

The lawyers at Brown Pruitt are willing to answer any more questions you have about adoption myths you may have heard or about the adoption process in general. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you bring home a child that’s perfect for you.


5 Adoption Fundraising Ideas for Hopeful Parents

If you’re considering adoption, you have probably heard that the process can be expensive. In addition to applying for adoption loans and tax credits, many adoptive parents turn to adoption fundraising as a way to help offset the costs of their adoption.

With a little creativity, there are countless ways to raise funds for your adoption. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Crowdfund your adoption.

Today, more and more families are turning to online fundraising to help raise money for their adoption costs. Popular crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe allow waiting families to invite friends, family members and kind strangers around the world to help them reach their adoption goals. Another crowdfunding site, YouCaring, allows families to coordinate free, adoption-specific fundraisers.

2. Sell a product.

Crafty adoptive parents often sell their crafts or hobbies to support their adoption fund using online marketplaces like Etsy. Another idea is designing and selling custom t-shirts, tote bags or other products that celebrate adoption. Local printing shops and companies like TFund can be used to create t-shirts that not only help you raise funds, but also help raise awareness of adoption.

3. Coordinate a traditional fundraiser.

Classic fundraising events like car washes, bake sales and even garage sales can still be highly effective ways to raise money for adoption.

4. Host an event.

While larger fundraising events often take more planning and preparation, they can also pay off for hopeful adoptive parents. Consider hosting a silent auction, a 5k run or walk, a golf tournament or benefit dinner with proceeds supporting your adoption fund.

5. Give back.

Organizations like Both Hands Project allow you to fundraise for your adoption while coordinating a service project that gives back to a widow in your community. With Both Hands Project, you can gather a team of volunteers and send letters asking for sponsorship for your day of service.

Budgeting and fundraising are important parts of any adoption journey. To learn more about adoption costs in Texas, contact Brown Pruitt today for a free consultation.