I often see this question raised in foster and adoption groups – “What are the pros and cons of PMC versus adoption?”
Although PMC or Permanent Managing Conservator is a legal term, often times families considering PMC do not have a solid understanding of the legal consequences of choosing to accept PMC. Even if a family believes PMC is the only option to maintain custody of a child, it is imperative that the family understand the legal implications of choosing to accept PMC.
Permanency Options – Adoption and PMC
When a caregiver or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is considering PMC or adoption, it is because DFPS and the courts have determined that a child cannot be returned to his or her home. Therefore, a permanent alternative placement is considered.
Generally, there are two paths for achieving a permanent placement for kids in CPS cases: adoption and PMC. (I use “permanent” loosely because, as discussed below, PMC can be more of a semi-permanent option, depending on the case.)
In adoption, parents’ rights are terminated and the child joins the Adoptive Family. PMC, however, means that a judge has appointed a person to be legally responsible for a child, but that child is not adopted by the PMC Family. Foster parents, relatives, family friends, and even DFPS can be granted PMC of a child. The following chart illustrates some of the key differences between Adoption and PMC.
|Birth parents’ rights terminated?||Yes||Possibly.|
|Legal Effect||It is as if the child was always part of the Adoptive Family||
PMC Family receives certain rights and duties, like a right to physical possession of the child; a duty of care, control and protection; and the right to consent to medical procedures (to name a few).
Birth parents may retain some of their rights (including right to visits or possession, the right to attend school activities, etc.)
|Assistance||Adopted child may receive post-adoption benefits, such as healthcare, adoption costs reimbursement, and monthly stipend, as well as post-adoption counseling and other services||
Families may qualify for the following assistance:
Some of these require application and approval.
|Pros||Inheritance rights, permanency, legal security||Parents may retain rights, possible permanency|
|Cons||Relationships with birth families after adoption may not be possible||
DFPS will be dismissed from the case – meaning they will not be providing post-placement services to you, and, if you’re a foster parent, you will not longer receive reimbursement from the state.
If parents retain rights, they may be able to ask a court to reinstate their custody. (See more below).
A PMC Family that later decides to adopt the child will not be eligible for adoption assistance, and may have to hire a lawyer to terminate the parents’ rights, depending on what type of PMC has been granted (see more below).
PMC – What Rights are Retained by Parents?
In my opinion, the most important distinction between adoption and PMC is what rights, if any, are retained by the birth parents. As described below, this distinction affects a PMC Family’s ability to receive child support from the birth family, as well as the PMC Family’s later options with respect to termination of rights and adoption.
PMC with Termination of Parental Rights
If the rights of the birth parents are terminated, then they have no legal rights or duties to the child (including child support). However, the child is still not adopted, so the benefits of adoption (above) do not exist.
PMC without Termination of Parental Rights
If the rights of the birth parents are not terminated, birth parents still have rights pursuant to the court order that gave the PMC Family custody. Importantly, birth parents can:
- request to have their rights reinstated by the court, including asking for custody of the child
- be ordered to pay child support (though you as the PMC Family are in charge of enforcing the agreement)
Further, a PMC Family who wants to later adopt a child may not be able to use any of the previous DFPS case facts to help with termination (meaning, new grounds for termination of rights must exist).
A person considering PMC should fully understand the legal ramifications of that choice before signing anything, including how PMC affects not only the child, but also the parent/friend/relative accepting PMC.
If you would like more information, please contact us. We’d love the opportunity to serve you!
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. You should contact an attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.