Texas Child Protection Law Bench Book

2023 version: As effective November 1, 2023

B. Documentation Required

The following is a list of documents required by the court before an adoption can be granted:

•   Criminal History Reports: The court shall order each person seeking to adopt the child to obtain their own criminal history reports. The court shall accept a criminal history record for each person seeking to adopt the child provided by DFPS or by a licensed child-placing agency that received the information from DFPS, if the information was obtained not more than one year before the court ordered the record obtained. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.0085(a).

•   Pre-Adoptive Social Study and Post-Placement Social Study: In a suit for adoption, pre-adoptive and post-placement social studies must be conducted as provided in Tex. Fam. Code Chapter 107, unless the court waives the requirement for the performance of an adoption evaluation under Tex. Fam. Code § 107.153(a-1). Tex. Fam. Code § 162.003.

•   Health, Social, Educational, and Genetic History (HSEGH) Report: Unless the adoptive parent is a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or stepparent, a HSEGH Report is required. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.005(a). If the child's biological parents cannot be located, and there is insufficient information to complete the HSEGH report, the court may waive the HSEGH report. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.008(c). Tex. Fam. Code § 162.005(c) requires any Child Placing Agency, Single Source Continuum Contractor (SSCC), or other person placing a child for adoption to receive a copy of the HSEGH in preparation for the adoption. Also, Tex. Fam. Code § 162.007(a) requires that the child's health history include information, to the extent known by DFPS, whether the child's birth mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy and whether the child has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

•   Interstate Compact Compliance Statement. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.002(b)(2).

•   Written consent forms signed by the managing conservator, in most cases DFPS, and the child, if age 12 or over. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.010.

•   A report or response from the child's Indian tribe, if applicable.

•   Order terminating parental rights, if rights have previously been terminated.

Special Issue: In a suit for adoption that is uncontested, the court may waive the requirement for the performance of an adoption evaluation of a prospective adoptive parent if that prospective parent is a stepparent of the child and the court has reviewed the investigative records of the department and any criminal history record information maintained by the Department of Public Safety relating to the prospective parent. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.153(a-1).

1. Adoption Order from a Foreign Country

•   An adoption order rendered to a resident of this state that is made by a foreign country shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of Texas and enforced as if the order were rendered by a court of Texas, unless the adoption law or process of the foreign country violates the fundamental principles of human rights or the laws or public policy of this state. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.023(a).

•   A person who adopts a child in a foreign country may register the order in this state. A petition for registration of a foreign adoption order may be combined with a petition for a name change. If the court finds that the foreign adoption order does not violate the principles of human rights or the laws or public policy of this state, the court shall order the state registrar to register the order and file a certificate of birth for the child under Tex. Health & Safety Code § 192.006. Tex. Fam. Code § 162.023(b).

2. Outgoing Convention Adoption Cases

•   An outgoing Convention adoption involves the adoption of a child resident in the United States by an individual or individuals residing in a Convention country when, in connection with the adoption, the child has moved or will move between the United States and the Convention country.

•   An outgoing Convention adoption must comply with processes established by the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA) and its implementing regulations that afford adoptees the recognition of their adoption in another Convention country. Such compliance is also key to the adoptee's ability to enter and permanently reside in another Convention country.

•   An outgoing Convention adoption will involve a State court's issuance of either a final adoption decree or an order granting custody for the purpose of adoption in another Convention country.

•   For more information, see the U.S. Department of State Office of Children's Issues Guide for State Authorities on Outgoing Adoption Cases from the United States to another Convention Country.