When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, birth parents face a difficult decision. Do we raise the child? Do we terminate the pregnancy? Do we consider adoption? What if we just aren’t sure? You see, there are situations when birth parents are not ready to raise their child, but they are also not ready to see a stranger raise their child. In these situations, birth parents sometimes ask about the benefits of having a family member adopt their child.
Having a Family Member Adopt Your Child (Kinship Adoption) vs. Kinship Caregivers
“Some women feel that it’s best for the baby to keep him in the family,” says Meghan Cohen, Help with Adoption. For these parents, there are two primary options.
When a family member assumes responsibility for raising your child, but you remain the child’s legal parent, this is called kinship caregiving. Today, more than six million children in the United States (roughly one in 12 children) live in households where grandparents or other relatives are the primary caregivers, according to the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA). This arrangement does not necessarily require any legal action or involvement from the state. However, if you want to permanently place a child with a family member and allow them to adopt your child, this will require an adoption agency.
When a family member adopts your child, it’s called kinship adoption. This type of adoption certainly has its advantages, but it also creates a complex and often contentious family dynamic that can sometimes be problematic.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of kinship adoptions is that “the child grows up with the family and siblings,” says Cohen. Other benefits include:
- “The child has ongoing direct contact with biological parents,” says Cohen.
- The child, adoptive parents, and biological parents already have a “personal relationship” and “established sense of trust,” says American Adoptions.
- This typically also means more contact between child and biological parents.
- Child and adoptive parents have easy access to “family medical and social history,” says Cohen.
“There are challenges when it comes to having someone within your family or a close friend adopt the child,” says Dean Kirschner, Ph.D., LCSW-C, Adoption Makes Family. These disadvantages include:
- “When you place a child for adoption, your parental rights are terminated,” says Cohen. “At the same time, the adoptive parents’ rights are established.”
- “Some women find this challenging,” says Cohen. “It can be difficult to watch someone else raise your child, especially if you live nearby and have frequent contact.”
- “It might also be difficult to hold your tongue when you disagree with the choices they (adoptive parents) make,” says Cohen.
- “If each family member’s roles, responsibilities and expectations are not clearly defined from the beginning, all of these different connections will be confusing for everyone involved,” according to American Adoptions. “The result may be that your child doesn’t truly know where he or she fits into your family.”
- “If you currently have other children or believe you may have other children in the future, you need to consider the effect your adoption decision will have on those children and their relationships with one another,” says American Adoptions.
Considering Having a Family Member Adopt Your Child? Have Questions?
“When facing an unplanned pregnancy, only you can decide which option is the best for your situation,” says Cohen. “Whichever option you choose, remember that you aren’t alone.”
Adoption Makes Family is here to help! We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland. Our adoption counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience. If you would like our advice or just need to talk, please give us a call at any time.
24-Hour Hotline 410-683-2100
If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at email@example.com or use our online contact form.