What Is The Difference Between An Open And Closed Private Adoption In Texas?
In Texas, an open adoption is very common and often recommended by social workers, adoptive counselors, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. However, open adoption can have many different levels. For instance, an open adoption can allow you to maintain contact with the birth parents or other relatives within the family of origin through email, social media, written letters, and even in-person visitations. The in-person visitations can be supervised or unsupervised. The factor of supervision is at the discretion of the parties involved in the adoption.
In its most general sense, an open adoption means that the child will know that they are adopted, and the adoptive family will know in some respect who the family of origin is. They may know the names of the birth parents and perhaps even their contact information.
In contrast, a closed adoption is usually accomplished through an adoption agency in which the adoptive family has very limited information about who the birth parents are, and vice versa. Participants might know as little as a first and last name and no other contact information. Commonly, in a closed adoption, the adoptee doesn’t know that they are adopted until a time later in life. Once adoptees in a closed adoption turn 18, they can place their name on the Texas Vital Statistics Unit’s Voluntary Central Adoption registry, which allows registered adult adoptees, birth parents, and siblings to find other registered family members.
Modern practice tells us that an open adoption is much more beneficial to the adoptee throughout their lifetime. There can still be many restrictions put in place on contact and accessibility between the adoptee and the biological parents. Many safety measures can be established in an open adoption. The open adoption process gives the adoptive parents a window of information in their child’s family and medical history, and it also affords the adoptee the chance to know all of the people in their lives.
What Factors Should Adopting Parents Consider When Choosing Between Open And Closed Private Adoption?
Adopting parents should primarily consider what their motivation is for adoption. If you are looking to complete your family through adoption because you want to bring a child into your home and raise them as your own from the moment they enter your family, you might initially lean more towards a closed adoption. If you want privacy, in that you don’t want your information known to the biological family, don’t intend the adoptee to know that they are an adopted child, or if there is some dangerous factor related to the biological family that causes concern, a closed adoption can check those boxes.
On the other hand, if you are an adoptive family looking to give a child who needs a family a home while considering their perspective and best interests, the accepted practices indicate that an open adoption is what’s best for the child. An open adoption allows contact at a future date if it is deemed in the child’s best interest. At least the possibility is there.
What Protections Can Prospective Adoptive Parents Put In Place?
It’s important for prospective adoptive parents to know that the adoption registry in Texas is completely voluntary. Biological parents are not able to access the adoption registry to find out who adopted their child without going through a significant process and voluntary consent of all parties. A biological parent, adoptee, or biological sibling of an adult adoptee can all register for the Central Adoption Registry at the age of 18. Matches are only made when two or more parties have both added their information into the registry. Even then, the release of information is not automatic. Registry participants must then complete a Consent to Release of Identifying information document, a one-hour post-adoption counseling session, and provide a written biography about the participant’s life with copies of photographs and other visual media. It is important to note that it is very difficult for adopted children in Texas to find out where they are from and who their biological family might be if no biological family has registered with the Central Adoption Registry.
Adoptive parents can find some comfort in knowing that the central adoption registry is kept private from the biological parents as well as the adoptee until at least adulthood, and then only after voluntary matches are made. Other protections that can be put in place include different forms of contact or limitations on contact from biological families. These limitations and protections can all be included in the Final Adoption Decree or Rule 11 Agreement drafted by an attorney and filed with the Court. It’s worth remembering that once a child’s biological parents’ rights are terminated, the biological family has no legal standing to the adoptee. Adoptive parents can rest assured that no one is going to take them back to court to overturn an adoption or gain access to the child if all of the statutory requirements have been met in the adoption.
For more information on Open Vs. Closed Adoptions In Texas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (903) 964-1122 today.
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