Many same-sex couples are looking to grow their families. Whether through adoption, artificial insemination or surrogacy, it is important to understand the legal requirements and to know what your options are. Here are a few things you should know and prepare for before you begin.
Can I adopt?
The answer is yes. However, it is important to understand the different types of adoption and the adoption laws in the state of Texas.
Can my spouse and I adopt a child together?
If you are legally married, yes. This is called joint adoption. Joint adoption is when two people petition to adopt a child together. Do keep in mind that not all states permit unmarried partners to adopt a child together.
Is artificial insemination an option?
Yes, there is no law that specifies a woman's sexuality or marital status, so any woman can receive artificial insemination from a licensed facility. It is important to understand that in most cases, the woman who carries the child is considered the "official" mother.
Once the child is born, you can petition for a second parent adoption.
Is surrogacy an option?
In the state of Texas, surrogacy is an option. The state does have certain restrictions on surrogacy contracts.
- Only married couples are allowed to enter into a surrogacy contract.
- Only gestational surrogacy, the egg cannot belong to the surrogate, must be donated or belong to the legal mother
- Only artificial insemination, no sexual intercourse
It is important to have a strict surrogacy contract before you proceed with the process. Have your lawyer review any contracts beforehand so there are no paternal or maternal issues upon the birth of your child.
Will the adoption process take longer because of my sexual orientation?
Texas is one of the few states that currently does not have any non-discrimination laws protecting same-sex partners. There is no guarantee that the process will not take longer because of your sexual orientation. It is best to choose an agency that is friendly and accepting of same-sex couples, this can help avoid any discrimination issues. However, Texas does not tolerate any form of hate crimes.
Should discrimination issues or acts of hate crimes arise, contact a lawyer to help settle any differences you and your partner may have with your agency.
What are the first steps I need to take to begin the adoption process?
The adoption steps are the same as they would be for any couple looking to adopt:
1. Talk about your emotions
2. Prepare financially
3. Make a plan
4. Meet with an agency and/or law firm
It is very important to bring your emotions out in the open; you and your partner should discuss what you are excited about and what your concerns are. Talking about your emotions can help identify if you both feel you are ready for this next step in your life.
Preparing financially is also very important. Adoption and raising a child can be expensive so make you have your financials in order. This is also something adoption agencies will be looking for. Make a plan, know what approach you are going to take and understand that adoption is a process. An attorney can help you make a plan and lay out step-by-step what you will need to do in order to make the process go smoothly and quickly.
You will find that the adoption process is an exciting, yet sometimes stressful, time in you and your partner's life. It is important to have a plan and be prepared so that when your child comes, you are ready to start creating this new chapter in your life. An attorney can provide useful information and help guide you before, through and after the adoption process.
Like many laws, adoption laws can be confusing. There are certain rules, regulations and exceptions concerning adoption. Having a family law attorney by your side can help explain the process and let you know what needs to be done in order to start your family.