How To You can adopt a family member.

Kinship adoption can benefit both the child and the extended family.When a parent dies, becomes unable to care for a child, or the child ends up in the foster care system, a kinship adoption can preserve the bonds of family and smooth the transition to a new life.Legal assistance is usually required to complete kinship adoptions.There are many steps you can take to make the process go more smoothly.

Step 1: The effect on your family should be considered.

The parents were unable to care for the child so they placed them with relatives.There may have been neglect, even abuse of the child, and the situation may be very emotionally charged in the family.It is possible for grandparents to be torn between loyalty to their birth child and concern for their grandchild.Taking in a niece or nephew can change the dynamics of marriages and existing families.If the child is old enough to have a relationship with her birth parents, there may be issues of separation and abandonment.Before committing to an adoption, prospective kinship parents should consider family counseling sessions.Discuss kinship adoption with the child's social worker if they came to your family via a court case.You need to understand the state's role in the adoption.

Step 2: Make sure the adoption is right for you and your family.

kinship adoption is different from other types because it requires people that you know personally, as well as the natural parents to both die or be declared incompetent.There may be competing interests between maternal and paternal grandparents.Almost always, the state child welfare agency is involved.If you want to place a child with your family, you should speak with an attorney or social worker about what's best for the child.Legal placement and custody.The court will look at blood relatives first to keep the child out of the foster care system.If you have the resources to care for the child, the state will often take legal custody of her and place her in your home.Under the supervision of the court, you handle the day-to-day activities of a parent.This situation usually lasts less than a year.Guardianship.This is a good option for kinship placement.The court gives you legal custody of the child and the right to act as her parent.The rights of the birth parents are not severed in an adoption.If the birth parents want to be involved in the child's life, they need to go to court.You may be able to get child support payments from the birth parents.Adoption severs the legal rights of the birth parents.You become the child's parent when you adopt a kinship child.You have the same responsibilities as any other parent.

Step 3: Know your rights in court.

In court cases involving the care and placement of minor children, blood relatives have a special status.When the child is in the custody of the state, when there is no guardian for her, or in an adoption proceedings, these are all cases.Federal law requires agencies to make reasonable efforts to keep siblings together in one home.You can ask the court for "interested party" status if you can show you have a relationship with a child who is your blood relative.You have a right to receive documents and reports.Adoption agencies in ten states are required to give preference to blood relatives.If the parent sent the child to live with relatives and consented to the adoption, the laws are set up to streamline the procedure.If the child has been living with a relative for a while, the home study will be cursory.

Step 4: Adoption assistance and research benefits.

You have to deal with the financial realities of raising a child, even though protecting your grandchild or niece may be the most important thing in your mind and heart.Some states offer assistance to adoptive parents.Most states will offer support if the child has special needs.You can add the child to your employer health insurance or apply for insurance through the state if you are an adoptive parent.

Step 5: A person is talking with a family law attorney.

A kinship adoption is the most complex of all adoption proceedings.In a stranger adoption, the parents' rights have been severed and you are not even considered.One of the birth parents is involved in the adoption.There may be unresolved issues with the birth parents, resentment in the family, the state child welfare agency may have a custody interest, and the child might be ambivalent about being adopted.It is not recommended that you attempt to do a kinship adoption on your own.A family law attorney can act on your behalf if you have the financial resources.If you qualify for court-appointed counsel, you should write a letter to the court.Speak to your local Legal Aid office.If you meet their income guidelines, you may be able to get representation in a Legal Aid office.You can contact the local bar association.For a reduced fee or pro bono, most bar associations have attorneys who are willing to assist with this type of case.

Step 6: An adoption proceeding should be instituted.

If the state is not involved, your attorney will file the adoption on your behalf.The birth parents can file a response to the petition during the preliminary hearing.The birth parents will sign forms surrendering their parental rights if they both consent.The family of the other parent may have the right to challenge the adoption.

Step 7: Look for agency cooperation.

If a state agency is involved, you will need their approval for a kinship adoption.Your biggest asset is a supportive social worker.Birth certificates and parental death certificates are needed for the adoption.They have access to records that can help locate absent parents.Cooperate with requests for home visits, interviews, and criminal background checks.Most states have laws in place to streamline these procedures and give preference to blood relatives, but your cooperation is essential.You should be open and honest.There is no private family business after the state becomes involved.If grandparents are healthy enough to be adoptive parents for young children, they may be asked to submit to physical exams.

Step 8: Talk about consent to the adoption.

If you want to adopt a grandchild or child of your sibling, you should talk to the family member birth parent.The rest of the family should be aware of their feelings.If the court severs parental rights it can cause dissent in the family that is not good for the child.

Step 9: You should work with your attorney.

Birth certificates, marriage and divorce documents, and employment records may be required of you.Don't tell your lawyer anything.If there is a drug problem, health issue, or criminal conviction in your past, it's a good idea to be honest about it.If your attorney is court-appointed, Legal Aid, or working pro bono, you will be able to get the court filing fees waived.Discuss the records you will have to give with your attorney.The state will handle the rights of the birth parents if there is a child welfare case.If the case goes to trial, you could be called to testify about how you have been caring for the child.Contact your attorney if you receive a subpoena.

Step 10: Attend court hearings.

Your attorney will let you know what he thinks may happen at the hearings.The first court date will be after all parties have been served.If the birth parents had their rights severed by the state, they are not required to attend.The family of the other birth parent can object to the adoption.No matter how angry or disappointed you are, don't be hostile.All communication should be directed to your attorney.Unless you are told to do so by your attorney, don't bring the children.There are rules against leaving children unattended in the hallway of the courtroom.If you work for the social welfare agency, they may have a playroom where the children can wait while you are in court.

Step 11: Prepare for a trial.

Uncontested kinship adoptions are the majority.The family is willing to do what is best for the child.A trial is possible until the final order is issued.A birth parent can change their mind.If the case was going to go to trial, you should act like it.The details of the case should not be discussed with the child.If you have questions that can't be answered with generalities, a family counseling session is a good idea.The birth parents should not be disrespected.The details of the case should not be discussed with other family.Let your attorney handle the communication if they need input or cooperation.Don't be hostile towards the family of the other birth parent.Even though rights have been surrendered or severed, they are still part of the child's family.The child may have a lot of affection for their family members.Discuss the issue with your attorney and social worker how to allow contact with the child during the holidays.

Step 12: There is a final court hearing.

If there was a trial, the court will review the documents and ask if you want to adopt the child.The final adoption will likely be approved by the state agency.The judge may talk to the children if they attend.The judge can either acknowledge that the birth parents consented or that their rights have been severed.If not, the judge will make a finding of fact that the parents are not fit to care for their children.You become the child's legal parent when you sign the order.

Step 13: The child's birth certificate needs to be updated.

You can file for a new birth certificate when you receive the file-stamped copy of the final adoption.If you are the maternal grandparents, you can change the child's last name to match yours.

Step 14: A safety plan is needed.

One or more of the birth parents may still be in the picture for kinship adoptions.It's up to you to decide how much contact you allow between the birth parents and the child.The majority of kinship adoptions are successful.Depending on the family situation, you should be aware of the residual danger of a kinship adoption.The child may be at risk if the parents' rights are severed.Family information should be updated with the child's school and caregivers.Inform them who can and can't pick the child up from school.If the parents' rights were severed because of substance abuse or physical abuse, you should allow contact.You should protect the child the same way you would a danger.Take out a restraining order to protect you, your child, and your home if a birth parent becomes threatening.If a birth parent leaves with a child or a family member doesn't return the child after a visit, take the adoption papers and new birth certificate to law enforcement.They will help you retrieve the child if they understand the situation.

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