When you choose to place your child for adoption, you are doing so because you want what is best for your child. Adoption can be a hard decision, but it may be the best decision for your future and for your baby’s future.
You may be surprised if your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts or uncles offer to adopt your child. If you are not ready to raise your child, this could be an opportunity for you to know that you have safe and trustworthy relatives who want to adopt your child. Other than family, your close friend may want to adopt your child, and this could be the best adoption situation for you.
This type of adoption — often called “identified adoption” — seems like a great idea to many women considering adoption. But, it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are pros and cons, and this guide will help you understand it all.
Here are the answers to two of the common questions that prospective birth parents have about family members or friends adopting their child.
“Can a Family Member Adopt My Child?”
Yes, kinship adoption is placing your child with a relative for an extended period until they are able to be adopted by that family member. This process can be facilitated by the social services department in your state under certain circumstances.
“Can a Friend or Acquaintance Adopt My Child?”
Yes, your friend or acquaintance can adopt your child through an independent or identified adoption. This means that your identified adoptive parents must meet the requirements for adoption and also complete the adoption home study. After you sign your adoption paperwork, then your child will be placed with your friend or acquaintance.
You can choose to place your child with a family member or friend at any time during your pregnancy or even after the baby has been born. All adoption stories are unique, but regardless of your desire to keep your baby in your family, you can benefit from knowing more about the possible challenges and considerations of placing your child for adoption with a family member or friend.
However, placing your child with a family member of friend is not your only option.
What is Private, Domestic Adoption?
Private, domestic adoption refers to an adoption that takes place in the United States between prospective birth mother, an adoption agency and the chosen adoptive parents.
In a private adoption, the birth mother has many options and choices that she can make during the adoption process because she is voluntarily relinquishing her parental rights. It is true that you will not know any of the waiting, hopeful parents. But, when you work with a fully licensed adoption agency, you can be confident that all families have been screened and are ready to adopt.
Domestic adoptions can take place between the birth mother and hopeful parents who live in the same state or who live in different states. The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) laws govern adoptions that take place across state lines, since not all states have the same adoption laws.
With private, domestic adoptions, hopeful parents could match with a prospective birth mother in the first few months of pregnancy, when she is preparing to deliver at the hospital or even a few weeks or months after the baby is born.
Hopeful parents can have any number of reasons for choosing private, domestic adoption. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
- Desire to bond with a child from birth.
- Maintain an open adoption relationship with the birth parents.
- Struggled with infertility or multiple miscarriages.
- Chosen by same-sex couples and single parents to start or expand their family.
So, which type of adoption is right for you and your baby? Here are five questions that may help you determine if placing your baby for adoption with a family member or friend is best for you and your baby.
1. Do You Want a Relative or Friend to Adopt Your Child?
“This was when my sister back home offered to adopt my unborn child. For some, a family placement might work. But my experience shows that you must always listen to your heart and your gut. And put your child’s needs ahead of your own. If you do that, I believe things will always work out the way they should.” – Lorri, a birth mother who placed her child for adoption.
There is a difference between a family member or friend offering to adopt your child versus you wanting to place your child with them. It may bring you peace of mind knowing that your baby will stay in your family, but it can also be beneficial for you to consider the bigger picture.
- Is your relative or friend ready to start or grow their family?
- Is your relative or friend living in a safe home?
- Is your relative or friend in a healthy relationship?
- Is your relative or friend financially stable?
You may not know the answers to those questions. If you choose to work with an adoption agency, your relative or friend will be screened and interviewed to determine their readiness for parenting.
Even though prospective adoptive parents complete a thorough screening process, you may be uncomfortable placing your child with a family that you don’t know. Many agencies can give you access to adoptive family profiles, which are meant to help you get to know a little bit about different families.
2. Why Do You Want a Family Member or Friend to Adopt Your Child?
There are many reasons that prospective birth parents want their friend or family member to adopt their child. However, a possible misconception is that relative or identified adoption will be easier, but that is not true. In an adoption, your relative or friend will assume full legal guardianship of your child. It can be difficult seeing your child frequently or even living with your child, but you won’t have the legal right to be responsible for your child.
Here are a few common reasons that prospective birth parents want their relative or friend to adopt their child:
- I know and trust my family and friends.
- I want to be able to see my child regularly.
- I want my family to be able to spend time with my baby.
- I want my baby to stay in my family.
Keep in mind, if personally knowing the prospective adoptive family is a big factor for you, open adoption gives you the option to choose how to communicate and build a relationship with any hopeful family that you choose. You can have contact with your prospective adoptive family at any time in your pregnancy via email, phone and in-person if you choose to do so. You are also encouraged to communicate with the family after your child has been placed with them.
3. Have You Discussed Parental Roles and Boundaries with your Relative or Friend?
You may know your family and friends really well, but you will no longer have parental rights over your child if you choose to place him or her for adoption with a relative or friend. This means you may see your child often, but you will have to accept the way that your family member or friend chooses to raise your child.
Don’t assume that your relative or friend will allow you to help them raise your child or visit your child whenever you want. This may not be the case — and co-parenting is confusing for a child. Instead, you will have to be OK with your new role in their life.
Transitioning into this new role is not easy, but there are some things you can do to prepare for success:
Be Open and Honest about What You Want for Your Child
Communication and effort are key to any good relationship, and this is no different for the relationship between you and the relative or friend that you choose to adopt your child. There is a big difference between being your child’s legal parent and being your child’s birth parent. Don’t be afraid to discuss parenting styles with your relative or friend.
Setting Boundaries is Important
Even though you are choosing to place your child with a relative or friend, you may not be comfortable with babysitting. If you will be living in the same home as your child after adoption, it is important for you and your relative or friend to discuss your role and expected relationship with your child. Boundaries will allow you, your friends, your family and your child to know your role as the birth mother
Think about Your Current and Future Children
If you already have children, you may find it uncomfortable or difficult to explain adoption to them. It may be even more difficult to explain to them why you placed their sibling for adoption with another family member or friend. Your child may see their current and future biological siblings every day. This can easily bring about confusion and questions about why they were placed for adoption but their siblings were not. Be ready to answer these tough questions for all of your children.
4. Are You Ready for Your Relationship with Your Family Member or Friend to Change?
Placing a child for adoption can be a tough choice and a life-changing event. Adopting a child is also a big change and responsibility for adoptive parents. If your relative or friend adopts your child, these two events may change the dynamic of your relationship. This change could bring you closer together or further apart. You can prepare for and accept those changes if you think placing your baby with a relative or friend is best for you and your baby.
There may be new tensions in this adoption relationship with your relative or friend. These tensions do not have to be bad, but the possibility of tension should be addressed. Examples include spending less or more time with your relative or friend and disagreements about parenting styles.
The maintenance of your relationship with your family members and friends is important. This relationship can be impacted later if you decide to place your child with a relative or friend. That impact could determine how much contact you can have with your child.
5. Do You Want to Parent Your Child Later?
Adoption does not provide the chance for you to parent your child in the future. Placing a child for adoption with a relative or a friend is a permanent, legal process. When you consent to have your parenting rights terminated, you cannot have your rights to your child returned. Your relative or friend will be your child’s legal parents.
However, if you expect your situation to change and you want to parent your child later, you can choose temporary guardianship with a family member. This means that a relative can provide care for your child for a specified period of time, but legal parenting rights still belong to you. Parents can terminate the temporary guardianship agreement at any time in order to raise their child on their own. Granting temporary guardianship can be a verbal agreement between you and your family, but this agreement is best handled by a family law attorney.
How Can I Start the Adoption Process with a Family Member or Friend?
If you know that placing your child for adoption with a relative or friend is right for you, then you can follow the steps below to begin your adoption process.
Step 1: Contact an adoption professional such as an adoption agency, social services department or adoption attorney.
Step 2: Create an adoption plan with your relative or friend and your adoption professional.
Step 3: Complete adoption paperwork and placement.
Step 4: Follow your established open adoption plan of communication, maintaining agreed-upon roles and boundaries.
Remember, you can always change your mind at any point in the adoption process before signing adoption paperwork. If you realize that placing your baby with a relative or friend is not for you, then you can find the perfect family for your baby from hundreds of hopeful families waiting to adopt a child.