Child Adoption by Relatives
You may be one of the many birth parents who are thinking of placing your child for adoption with your parents, grandparents of other blood relatives. The information below will help you if you are thinking of such a placement.
Placing a child with a family member to help care for your child is an option every birth parent has. It does not necessarily require any legal action and does not need to involve the state or any adoption agency.
If, however, you want to permanently place a child with a family member and allow them to adopt your child, this is a legal process and will involve an adoption attorney or an adoption agency. Such an adoption is permanent and forever will end the rights of the birth mother and birth father. Accordingly, such a decision should be done only after careful thought.
This information below is adapted from a Child Welfare Information Gateway article. To see how your specific state of residence addresses the issue of placement and adoption with a relative, visit ChildAdoptionLaws.com or the above CWIG linked website.
Preference to Relatives
Each State defines "relative" differently, including relatives through blood, marriage, or adoption ranging from the first to the fifth degree. Generally, preference is given to the child's grandparents, followed by aunts, uncles, adult siblings, and cousins. The main requirements for placement are that the relative be "fit and willing," able to ensure the child's safety, and able to meet the child's needs. Several States require relatives to undergo a criminal background check that may include all adult members of the household.
Relatives with whom a child is placed for foster care are given preference for permanent placement if reunification with the birth parents is determined not to be in the child's best interest.
A private child adoption can be very risky for you and your child. There are several reasons. First, the family, facilitator, and/or the referral source are working for the family, not you, to get your child placed with the family and they are most interested in protecting the adopting family and their rights, not yours or your baby's. Another reason a private child adoption is so risky is that in a private child adoption you may not really know much about the family except what they allow you to be told. You can not be sure that they are stable, that their marriage is truly secure, or if they have a healthy outlook and a positive way of handling children.
Additionally, a private child adoption is risky because the family can promise you things -- like pictures and updates on the child. But they do not have to follow through with the promise because your rights to the child will be ended without conditions and you may have no way to enforce the family's promises, even if an agreement is in writing.
Without a licensed child adoption agency supervising the process, adoption can be a nightmare. When you read a horror story about child adoption in the news, it is most likely a private child adoption. In fact, several states have outlawed private adoption and require all child adoptions be conducted only through a licensed child adoption agency.
Several States (Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia have established "kinship care" or "relative caregiver" programs by statute to provide relatives with benefits to help offset the cost of caring for a placed child. Six States (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Tennessee) address foster care payments for kin caregivers in statutes. In these States, if a relative meets the qualifications for being a foster parent, he or she may receive payments at the full foster care rate and any other benefits available to foster parents, whether in money or services.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you want our guidance or help. We can make sure your child is placed with the perfect family, your rights are protected, and that you receive all the financial assistance, medical and other types of help that the law allows. There is never any fee to you as a birth parent whether you work with our agency or decide to place with a family member or look elsewhere.
Adoption by a Relative
In approximately 23 States, when a parent makes a direct placement of the child with a relative, the laws provide for a streamlined adoption process, such as not requiring a pre-placement assessment or home study unless specifically ordered by the court. Other States require that the child have resided with the relative for a period of time or have in some other way established a significant relationship with the relative. Approximately 13 States require a criminal records check of the adoptive parents and other adult household members.
We Can Help a Birth Parent Living in Any State
We are licensed in multiple states and are able to help a birth mother, birth father, and adopting family living in any of the 50 U.S. states.