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Understanding Permanent Conservatorship and Adoption

In some cases, family reunification is not possible; which leads to three permanency options:  1) a "relative" being named the child's permanent managing conservator; 2) CPS being named the child's managing conservator; or 3) adoption.

Relative Appointed Managing Conservator

A parent that is facing termination of the parent-child relationship may be able to avoid such a consequence if a relative placement option exists.  Essentially, if there is a suitable relative, either blood or fictive, that can care for the child's long term needs, the parties may agree that naming the relative the child's managing conservator is the child's best interest.  Under this approach, the parent is named a possessor conservator or may be given no designation, in any event, termination of parental rights does not occur and it is likely that the parent will have restricted access to the child and have to pay child support.  This method is more likely in a case where an older child is in care and can be placed with a relative, such as, permanently placing a 15 year old with grandparents and ordering the parents to provide financial support with limited access.

CPS Appointed Managing Conservator

If parental rights are terminated, the court will appoint CPS as the child's permanent managing conservator ("PMC"), regardless if the ultimate plan is for the child to be adopted.  However, CPS may be appointed PMC in cases where the parent and CPS agree that it is in the child's best interest to remain in care.  For example, a parent may not have the means to address a child's specialized needs, either medical or psychiatric, and may request help from CPS.  The issue is not the parent's abilities, but instead, the child's specific needs.  Termination of parental rights is likely not appropriate; nevertheless, the one year deadline requires that a final order be rendered by the one year anniversary or the suit dismissed; thus, requiring a final order that CPS will be the child's PMC, whereas, the parent is a possessory conservator and still involved in their child's life.


If parental rights termination has occurred, a third party can adopt the child.  At times, a parent will relinquish their parental rights to provide a family member or friend the opportunity to adopt their child.