Is It Easier to Adopt a Family Member’s Child?

When you adopt a family member’s child it is known as a “Relative Adoption” in Texas. That can apply to adopting a grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, or sibling. There are often two situations for relative adoptions. Either you have a voluntary adoption arrangement, or you have a child in the family that needs to be under another adult’s care.

You and Your Partner Must Both Be Onboard

You can adopt and be single, but if you are married, then both adults have to agree to the adoption. They’ll want to see that both adults are committed to the child’s welfare. There is no restriction on same-sex couples or LGBTQ parents, simply that both adults involved must be ready to take on this responsibility.

Is It Better To Obtain Custody or Adopt a Family Member’s Child?

Obtaining custody is often the easy part. Through the foster care system, if a child is removed from the parent’s custody, they will often try to place them with a relative first. Additionally, you can turn to an adoption lawyer in Houston to pursue custody if the child is in an unfit living environment or situation. 

Many parents are more willing to sign away custody privately than have CPS and the child’s welfare office involved in the custody arrangement. It may be that the parent is not willing to sign away parental rights. That is the major difference between custody and adoption.

A person can obtain custody while the parent retains some rights, if not all, rights. However, in an adoption, those rights will either become dissolved by the State, or they must be willing to sign away the rights. There’s also the issue that both parents must sign away rights. If the father was never informed of the child’s birth, he must be tracked down and informed. He may choose to fight for his rights even if the mother is willing to give up her rights.

Adoptions involve a degree of cooperation either between the adoptive parents and the State, or between the adoptive parents and the biological parents. It can never be a completely involuntary situation.

On a Personal Level, It May Be More Difficult

Unless you’re in a rare situation where you’re voluntarily entering into an adoption process with a family member, then you may have a more complex adoption. A voluntary situation, for example, a young niece or cousin is pregnant and would rather put the child up for adoption to a family member they know, and she and the father are willing to sign all parental rights away.

That situation with the voluntary agreement is uncommon. There is also still the risk of the mother or father changing their mind. What is more common is an unfit single parent or parents who are putting the child in danger or not able to meet certain needs.

In those cases, a relative adoption often requires a court to get involved first to remove the children from custody, then to put them into state custody. The foster care system, or Child Welfare office, prefers to place children with relatives and gives them priority after removing them from home. After receiving the child, you may need to fight with the State to adopt the child by legally removing or eliminating all parental rights involuntarily. 

Besides the legal battle that can come in those situations, the bigger issue can be a personal relationship. If the child’s parent was a sibling or even your parent, then that relationship may be beyond repair. They may feel as if you’re “taking” a child from them. You may need to go through more extensive court processes such as obtaining restraining or protection orders if this situation becomes violent.

The resounding element here is that clearly on a federal and state level, the government agrees with what most involved adults do: the child is often better with a relative than an unknown adult.

Eddington & Worley Can Help You Adopt a Family Member’s Child

An adoption attorney is almost necessary. Not only will they set up things such as the home study, but they can also manage a lot of the paperwork that, in most cases, would go through an adoption agency. You’re not in a position where you’re relying on an adoption agency, so many people starting a relative adoption are very confused about the process.

Where to start and how to finish are huge questions. Eddington & Worley is an experienced law firm that deals with family law and adoption, we can answer your questions. With us on your side, you won’t have to face these issues alone.