Depending on how you are related to the child you are hoping to adopt, the process for this may vary. If you are interested in adopting your relative’s children, the first step is to seek the counsel of an attorney. There are some attorneys who will offer you a free consultation. They will hear the situation that the children are in and will be able to tell you what the next steps are if you would like to move forward. The attorney should also be privy to the laws in your state regarding relative adoption. If the children are in a different state, you will also have to find out what the statutes are in that state regarding relative adoption.
If your relative’s children are in the custody of a foster care agency, it is important to make sure the agency knows your interest to adopt. From there, the agency should let you know if they have any other relatives interested, if the children are yet eligible to adopt, and what next steps you need to take. If the children are eligible to adopt, the foster care agency may be able to get the process moving by getting your FBI background check-in process and also scheduling you for a home study. If you are in a different state or county, this process will occur through your local agency. Once your home study is complete and background checks have come back, the final step will be the approval and transition home. While that sounds rather cut and dry, this process can take around four to nine months.
If your relative’s children are not yet in foster care, but they have asked you to adopt their children, this is where an attorney would be most helpful. With this kind of adoption, there are many different ways this might occur. If the child is not yet born, the adoption may look very much like a private adoption. However, there are various factors that go into how the adoption will occur. All relative adoptions will likely still undergo a home study unless this is waived by a judge. You will need to pay for this home study to be completed by a licensed adoption professional, usually through an adoption agency. The average cost of a home study is around $1,500. If you are in a situation where you already have custody of the child, the home study is likely to be waived, and the process is made a little easier. It will depend on both the state and the situation surrounding the adoption.
The process may sound confusing, but it simply comes down to the fact that no two situations are the same. This is why it is important to consult an adoption attorney. They are knowledgeable on the legal route to adoption in varying situations. One such factor to note is the definition of “relative” in adoption. This definition will vary from state to state. In some states, a relative is only defined as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. For example, in some states, if you were wanting to adopt the baby of your cousin, it would not be considered a relative adoption. In this case, you would need to follow all of the requirements set forth for domestic infant adoption.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on www.facebook.com/halfemptymom/.