The Ins and Outs of Kinship Adoption

Giving your child up for adoption to a family member can seem like the perfect solution if you’ve found yourself facing an unplanned pregnancy. You might believe that you’ll be able to continue on with your own life and goals while keeping your child near you and remaining involved in his or her life. Giving a baby up for adoption to a family member can seem ideal, but it’s actually a very complicated relationship that might warrant further exploration before you choose to follow through with it.

Before we dive in to the pros and cons of a relative adopting your baby, let’s first address one thing. The phrase “giving a baby up for adoption” to a family member is misleading, as the traditional meaning of “giving up” is the same as quitting or throwing in the towel. That is not at all the case with adoption, and it’s a phrase that many in the adoption community find offensive. However, it’s also a phrase that many people while searching the internet to learn more about the process, so it’s one that we continue to use simply so that more people have access to accurate adoption resources.

With that out of the way, then, let’s highlight some of the advantages of pursuing a kinship adoption, otherwise known as a family adoption.

Pros of Giving a Baby Up for Adoption to a Family Member

It’s important to acknowledge that there may be benefits involved if you want a relative to adopt your child.

  • You already have a relationship with your child’s potential adoptive parents. If you are wondering, “Can a family member adopt my baby?” it’s probably because you’ve already got an ideal family member picked out. Maybe they approached you with the idea, or maybe you’re hopeful it will work out but haven’t asked them yet. Whatever the case, it can be nice to feel confident in a prospective adoptive parent’s ability to provide your child with a safe, loving home, and choosing someone you already know may bring about that feeling more quickly than if you have to start a relationship with someone you’ve never met before.
  • You might be able to have more post-placement contact with your child. If you have a close relationship with the relative adopting your baby, this may mean you have more opportunities to visit and interact with your child. Maybe you’ll all be together at holidays, or maybe they live nearby and you already talk frequently as it is. While you can choose to have an open adoption with any prospective adoptive parents for your child, it might be more feasible to communicate more frequently with members of your own family.
  • Giving your child up for adoption to a family member may ease your family’s mind about adoption. For some women, it’s a possibility that their families might not completely support their adoption choices. While this decision is yours and yours alone to make — because only you know what’s right for your child — it is possible that you may be able to avoid some of that conflict by choosing to pursue a relative adoption. However, please make sure that this is not the sole reason you choose to undergo the relative adoption process. No one should ever pressure you into making any type of decision regarding your unplanned pregnancy or adoption plan.
  • If you are interested in giving a baby up for adoption to a family member short-term, it may be possible to arrange something temporary. It’s important to understand that once you place your child for adoption, this is a permanent decision. It does not matter if you are related to the parents or not; when you place your child for adoption, you permanently relinquish your rights to your child. So, if you’re asking, “If a family member has adopted, is there a chance to get your child back?” the answer is no. However, it is possible to arrange a temporary legal guardianship with a family member while you fully prepare yourself to parent.

Every family is different, as is every situation, so it’s absolutely possible that it might work out if you want a relative to adopt your child. However, there are also some very significant reasons to be cautious if you are considering pursuing a relative adoption.

Cons of Giving a Baby Up for Adoption to a Family Member

If you are considering placing your child in a kinship adoption, carefully consider the following:

  • You will not be co-parenting your child. If you are considering relative adoption as a way to influence how your child is parented, know that you lose all parental rights when you consent to an adoption. Whether you agree with how your family members choose to parent your baby or not, those will be their decisions to make and not yours. This can be challenging and even cause conflicts within your family.
  • Keep in mind that there are changes in post-placement contact. While you will make an agreement about the degree and methods of communication you wish to share with your child’s adoptive parents, it’s not uncommon for these relationships to grow and change over time. Sometimes one party wants more space to grieve, while the other may be more interested in increasing visits. In a kinship adoption, this can be hard — especially if both parties don’t agree. This may end up putting other family members in the middle, and if you arranged an independent kinship adoption, you may be left attempting to navigate these challenges without the help of an adoption professional.
  • Relationships can get confusing. If you place your child with your parents, you are biologically his parent but legally his or her sister. If you place with an aunt or uncle, you are biologically a parent but legally a cousin. This dynamic can get extremely confusing, especially as this means a family member’s roles and expectations are not clearly defined. This may result in your child not feeling like he or she belongs in the family. These feelings will only grow over time if you go on to have other children.
  • There will be a constant reminder of your loss. Pregnant women who pursue adoption have to go through a grief and loss process in order to move on with their lives. This can be extremely difficult if you are constantly reminded of your decision and cannot reach a sense of closure.

None of this to say that kinship adoption is or isn’t the right decision for you; only you can make that choice. However, it’s important to consider all of the realities of giving a baby up for adoption to a family member before beginning the process.

You can always speak to one of these adoption agencies for more information about the options available to you when placing your child for adoption: