The decision to terminate parental rights is made by the CPS case worker, Attorney ad Litem (attorney for the child), parent’s attorney(s), and CASA. If all parties are in agreement, they take their recommendation to the judge overseeing the case. The judge looks at the evidence for termination and is the final decision maker.
When the judge signs the order of termination, parents have 30 days from that date to file an appeal. In addition, extended family is given 90 days to appeal the termination.
Sometime during the 30 and 90-day appeal period, the case is turned over to the adoption unit. An adoption case worker is assigned to the case, and they begin the process of collecting all the case documentation as well as any information on the bio family to be presented to the adoptive family. The case worker also does all the adoption paperwork and negotiates any ongoing stipend and insurance if the child is eligible.
Also, during the appeal period, the adoptive family hires an attorney to take care of the legal paperwork for adoption. If the child meets the state criteria for a “special needs” adoption, the state payes the attorney fees. If not, the attorney fees are paid by the adoptive family.
If the parents or family don’t appeal the termination, the child is then considered free for adoption. In the State of Texas, there is a six-month residency requirement. Basically, this means that the child has to be with their adoptive family for a minimum of six months before the adoption can be finalized. However, in some circumstances, the residency requirement is waived so the adoption can take place sooner than six months.
In Ezran’s case, we have now passed the 30-day the parental appeal period and are over half-way thru the 90-day family appeal period as well. We have hired the adoption attorney and have requested that the 6-month residency period be waived. Because Ezran was placed with us to be with his sister, he meets one of the “special needs” requirements, so the state will pay the attorney fees for his adoption.
As of today, the case has still not been turned over to the adoption unit.
In the meantime, we are “still” trying to get our adoption license. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be licensed by now, except for the fact that our agency hasn’t done a very good job of moving things along.
I contacted them back in December, when we got the call from CPS. Since then, we’ve had to resubmit documents multiple times, including documents that we submitted back in December. They’ve been slow to respond to questions and in some cases, never responded at all.
Finally, on March 22nd and 24th, we had our home study interviews and our home inspection on the 23rd.
The woman doing the home study has been interviewing our references as well, so things are finally moving in the right direction, but it’s been a very frustrating process to say the least.
CPS has also been a bit frustrated with the agency because the adoption can’t take place until we have our adoption license. The case worker suggested we contact another agency if things didn’t start moving along and while we seriously considered that, we also knew that starting all over could potentially slow things down more.
Our agency has guaranteed we will be licensed before the end of May. Now we’ll see if they are able to fulfill that promise.
I had hoped that our experience with the agency this time would have been as smooth and seamless as it was when we got our foster to adopt license. Somewhere along the way, the agency has made changes that have made the process less than desirable.
Fortunately, we are able to see a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully we’ll have an adoption date no later than June.