There are essentially three categories of adoptions:
- Private adoption
- International adoption
- Adoption of a child through Child Protective Services
Private adoptions typically are limited to the adoption of newborns.
International adoption agencies work with children of all ages, although many of these children are infants and toddlers.
Child Protective Services works with children of all ages, and all of these children have been removed from their homes due to high-risk situations such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Licensed Adoption Agencies
Any agency that conducts home studies on families living in Texas must be licensed as a “child-placing agency” by the Residential Child Care Licensing (RCCL) division of the Department of Family and Protective Services, regardless of the type(s) of adoption they perform. Licensed adoption agencies must meet and comply with the state’s minimum requirements. These are found in:
- Chapter 42 of the Texas Human Resources Code;
- Title 40, Chapter 745 of the Texas Administrative Code; and
- Title 26, Chapter 749 of the Texas Administrative Code, commonly known as Minimum Standards for Child-Placing Agencies.
How RCCL Regulates Licensed Adoption Agencies
RCCL inspects licensed agencies regularly to ensure that they are meeting minimum standards for approving adoptive families, placing children, and supporting families between adoptive placement and finalization. RCCL also investigates reports of minimum standards violations or abuse/neglect. The court system, not RCCL, is responsible for overseeing the legal process of adopting a child.
Please be aware that although RCCL can cite a licensed adoption agency as being in violation of minimum standards and other rules related to the license, RCCL has very limited authority over the financial contract between a licensed adoption agency and adoptive parents.
Viewing Agency Compliance History: You can also research the compliance record of a licensed adoption agency at www.txchildcaresearch.org. Click Search for Child Placing Agencies for Adoption.
Reporting Concerns: You can report a concern about a licensed adoption agency via our toll-free hotline (1-800-252-5400) or our website at https://www.txabusehotline.org.
Choosing an Adoption Agency
Here are some suggestions for what to do before choosing a licensed adoption agency:
- Use Texas Child Care Search to search for agencies and view their compliance records. To search, go to www.txchildcaresearch.org and click on “Search for Child Placing Agencies for Adoption”.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau for a reliability report on the agencies.
- Ask each adoption agency for its detailed list of minimum qualifications for adoptive parents. For example, some have specific requirements regarding age or religion. Others may require adoptive parents to be infertile. Ensure that you meet the agency’s minimum qualifications.
- Ask each adoption agency for written information about its adoption program. Minimum Standard 749.3601 requires each licensed adoption agency to provide written information to all prospective adoptive parents regarding: services provided by the agency, financial policies and procedures, agency requirements, legal requirements for adoption, and adoption registries.
- Review all adoption agency financial policies very carefully. Adoption fees can vary significantly from one agency to another. Adoption agency policies also vary regarding refunds. Financial disputes with adoption agencies are the most common complaints received from adoptive parents, and RCCL has very limited authority over financial contracts between adoptive parents and the agency. Therefore, knowing the agency’s policies and the minimum standards regarding adoption fees can help to prevent a problem of this nature.
- Ask questions about the agency’s services, policies, compliance record, etc. Make a list of questions to ask each adoption agency prior to making your choice.
- Ask for copies of any contracts that you may have to sign. Adoption agencies often require that adoptive parents sign a written contract with the agency. Review such documents very carefully. As with any contract, you may consult with an attorney before you sign it.
- If you are considering international adoption, ask if someone from the adoption agency’s office has visited the orphanages where the children reside. Also ask what federal and international laws may apply to adopting children internationally.
The Adoption Process - What to Expect
Most adoption agencies offer orientation meetings at which you can learn more about their specific program, services, and requirements.
After you submit an application, the agency will perform background checks and a home study, which must occur before you can be approved to adopt. The process of conducting a home study is the agency’s way of getting to know you and ensuring that your home is safe and appropriate for a child.
If your home study is approved, the agency may ask you to sign a contract and the agency will start looking to match you with a child. You could be matched for an "open" or "closed" adoption.
In an “open” adoption, you will meet the birthparents and maintain contact with them based on mutually agreed upon guidelines. In a “closed” adoption, you will be given general information about the birth family, but you will not meet them or be given any identifying information about them. The agency should provide you with information about the child and his family background before you decide whether to accept that child for adoption.
Support Before Placement
While waiting to be matched with a child, you can expect the agency to provide you with training and support.
Placement and Post-Placement Supervision
Do not be rushed into a decision, and do not be afraid to voice concerns about the placement before or after it has occurred (but before the adoption is finalized).
Before the adoption is finalized, the adoption agency is required to keep in contact with you for a period of time (usually six months) to ensure that the placement is successful. If you are adopting internationally, there may be exceptions to this requirement, if the adoption is finalized before you return to the United States. Ask the adoption agency about their plans for post-placement supervision and support.
There are legal requirements for finalizing the adoption, including the termination of the birth parents’ rights. Most licensed adoption agencies have an attorney on staff, and you may hire your own attorney.
Minimum Standards 749.3461 and 749.3741 require adoption agencies to offer counseling services (directly or through referrals) to adoptive child and adoptive parents after the adoption is finalized.
- The Child Welfare Information Gateway has a list of adoption financial assistance resources.
- The federal government offers an adoption tax credit. Information on this can be found on the IRS web site.
- Some employers also have adoption benefits. The military has adoption benefits available as well.
- You may be eligible for adoption assistance when you adopt a child through Child Protective Services.
Child Protective Services (CPS)
The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE) provides pictures and short descriptions of children in Texas foster care awaiting adoption.
This site provides pictures and short descriptions of children throughout the Unites States awaiting adoption.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
This organization was established by Congress to provide the general public with easily accessible information on all aspects of adoption.
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: 800-394-3366 or 703-385-7565
Email: Child Welfare Information Gateway
North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC)
970 Raymond Avenue, Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114-1149
Phone: 651-644-3036 or 1-800-470-6665 (adoption subsidy questions only)
Email: North American Council on Adoptable Children
National Adoption Center - Adoption Benefits Coordinator
To request a list of employers that provide adoption benefits or to learn more about how to ask for this benefit at your workplace, contact:
Adoption Benefits Coordinator
National Adoption Center
1500 Walnut Street, Suite 701
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 1-800-TO ADOPT or 215-735-9988
Email: National Adoption Center
Texas Voluntary Adoption Registry
The adoption registry is a voluntary system that biological parents and adopted children can use to try to contact each other. To obtain information about the adoption registry in Texas, contact the Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Additional information is available on the web site below.
Phone: 1-888-963-7111 ext. 7388
Here are some additional resources related to international adoption:
Intercountry adoption information from the U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues:
Contact: Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Factsheet - Intercountry Adoption: Where Do I Start?
Report fraudulent, illegal, or unethical practices to:
Joint Council on International Children’s Services
1320 19th St., NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036