Relative Adoption

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There are several factors to consider in relative adoptions:

  • Adoption laws are generally state laws and can differ substantially from one state to another.
  • In light of the differences in state adoption laws, the following is general information for your consideration. There is no substitute for advice from a competent licensed adoption attorney in your area who is familiar with the legal intricacies. (To find an adoption attorney, visit the Directory of Professionals.)
  • "Relative adoptions" are not the same as "stepparent adoptions." {For information, see Stepparent Adoption.)

In most states, relative adoptions are treated somewhat less formally than non-relative ("stranger") adoptions. They may require only an abbreviated homestudy, or none at all. For this preferential treatment to apply, the adoption must fit the definition of a relative adoption under state law. Most state laws define "relative" by degree of relatedness. For example, Arizona adoption law defines a "relative" as "uncle, aunt, adult sibling, grandparent or great-grandparent of the child of the whole or half-blood or by marriage or adoption." Not fitting in this general definition are cousins of any degree or children of nieces or nephews. You will need to consult your attorney or the specific law in your state.

General Considerations

  1. Just as with any adoption, there must be a proper termination of the parental rights of both the child's biological parents. New birth certificates are issued, and adoption records are sealed in accordance with state laws.
  2. Adopting a close relative's child may be the best solution for the child, but it can cause a radical change in the dynamics of your relationship with that relative. These types of relationships have the potential to become strained or severely damaged due to questions of "quasi co-parenting" and exactly who is the child's parent. The reality is that this dynamic will be different for everyone involved, including all family members, and extending to other children the biological parents may have now or in the future. You will be confronted with questions of relatedness (is your child their cousin? sibling? aunt? uncle?), among others. Can this be done? Yes. Will it be a snap? No. The openness encouraged in adoptions today will help communication with all parties, and those experienced with relative adoptions strongly recommend counseling before and after the adoption whenever possible.
  3. Depending on the child's age and the circumstances of the adoption, talking to your child about the adoption may involve additional complexities due to previous and current relationships, death and grief, disappointments, and human failings. Do seek out support groups and educational books and tapes.

Additional Resources

Relative Adoption Forum
Grandparent Adoption Forum
Book: Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child

For more information specific to Grandparent Adoption and more options available to those who are caring for related children, including adoption, guardianship, legal custody, and open adoptions, see Legal Options for Relative Caregivers.

Related Articles

Keeping the Family Tree Intact
Encyclopedia: Family Preservation
Adopting My Nephew: African-American and an Adopting Parent
Library of Articles on this Topic

Visitor Comments (22)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Sheila - 8 months ago
1 1 4
My neice is 17 months old now, and I have raised her since birth. Her mother gave birth to her while she was incarcerated, and since her release 8 months ago hasn't even tried to contact her, and sent messages that she wants nothing to do with her. Her father is now incarcerated AGAIN, and looking at a substantial amount of time in prison. I was granted custody 9 months ago, and the judge granted nobody visitation rights to the child. I want to adopt her. I live in Virginia, and I am not even sure where/how to begin the process. Thank you! Good luck to all!!!! #1
shakerra - 5 months ago
0 0 3
I have a 6 year old cousin who dcfs from Florida tryna remove n she been here with me since she was 3years old I dont have cousdyof her but I want to hOw do I do it??? Plz help #2
Help - 3 months ago
0 0 1
Me and my fiancé of three years have been taking care of his half niece. Her mother has told us she wants her own life and that we are her mom and dad. My fiancé is going to be 18 in three months and I in six months. His mother has guardianship of our niece, and has agreed to give us guardianship when we get married. My mother has planned on giving us a house when we get married and we plan to get the adoption started as soon as possible. How do I get the papers for her to sign, and how can we be givin guardianship. I know we have to have a home study done but what else comes after they home study? Please help #3
Lawrence Jones - 15 hours ago
How would i have cope without this great man standing by me Dr Brown?i have had a strong broken heart for more than 7 months that my love Alloy Greece decided to break my heart because he knows i love him so much,God knows i did everything to make my man happy but he never seems to appreciate my kind and lovable gesture i gave him but i bless God for bringing Dr Brown into the picture to come and save me for a broken heart i got to know about Dr Brown when i was reading a magazine that was where i saw a lady sharing her testimony how Dr Brown helped her in bringing back her lover and also was awarded a big contract she has been awaiting for years after which she contacted Dr Brown the contract was awarded to her,Then i went online search about Dr Brown there i saw some great testimonies from lot of people he has helped i had no other choice than to contact him and as i contacted him and explained everything to him he just told me not to worry that Alloy Greece would be back after which #4
louis peter - 23 hours ago
Dear friends online, my name is LOUIS PETER, am from USA... I have to give this miraculous testimony, which is so unbelievable until now. I had a problem with my Ex husband 2years ago, which lead to our break up. when he broke up with me, i was not my self again, i felt so empty inside me, my love and financial situation became worst, until a close friend of mine (Mary) told me about a spell caster who helped her in the same problem too his name is Dr OBEYED.So i emailed him xxxx the spell caster and i told him my problem and i did what he asked of me, to cut the long story short. Before i knew what was happening my husband gave me a call and told me that he was coming back to me in just 2days and was so happy to have him back to me. We have two kids together and we are happy with ourselves. Thanks to Dr Obeyed for saving my relationship and for also saving others own too. continue your good work, If you are interested to contact him and testify this #5
Guest - 2 months ago
Im looking into adoption of my granddaughter CP's gave mW custody a few yrs back the man my daughter said was her dad isn't after I called her out on it n my daughter chooses men over her kids but I only have the oldest one because she has a voice n doesn't want to live with her mom anymore because she was the "mom" in that household n couldn't take it anymore my daughter has 4 more kids living in that home n she doesn't want to change her lifestyle so I need to do this n since my granddaughter has been with me she is a straight a student now in high school #6
Stacey Bruno - 21 hours ago
How i got my boyfriend back.Am Stacey Bruno by name .I cannot believe this, my husband is back, i am grateful to see my husband returned with full force Dr ATILA buckler made this miracle to happen, Happiness has come to me at last, I am very pleased to say things are going well, I truly believe this love spell has made a difference, Mr Robinson is truly gifted.better. His email is xxxx #7
Jose - 3 months ago
0 0 0
I live in Alberta and have to beautiful girls. Their mom uses alcohol and drug so our kids got taken away by social services. And they not willing to return them to me and the best choice I have to give their guardianship to my mom till I can provide I can protect myself and my baby Gil's from their mom. So I have to leave them for a bit and already applied for grandma guardianship through court and hopefully she can get them back and I have to leave moms house for don't know how long but it's the best for them and I will provide financial for mom and them. Hope all children have better future #8
rebecca hayes - 2 weeks ago
We have been raising 2grandsons for 7 years the mother agree to us adopting the father is in prison ...the boys age 14 and 11 want our last names as they are ashamed of there BC of what parents have done what form do we need to download to do the adoption also does the father loose his rights when he went to prison...desperately need help thanks...email xxxx #9
Wanda - 2 weeks ago
I have full custody of my grand daughter ,she was born a drug baby, has had her since she was two weeks old. Mom and dad in and out of jail for drugs and other things. My son is looking at 10 years in prison and not sure if mom will get off with probation or not. I want to adopt my grand daughter and not sure on how to go about this .. #10
Roxanne - 1 month ago
I wrote a novel where a paternal grandmother adopts her granddaughter and then has to confront the mother three years later. You might be interested in it. It is called “Nerve” and I am S.R. Skelton. It’s on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Nerve-novel-S-R-Skelton-ebook/dp/B00WTT3ZJS #11
adoptbaby - 2 months ago
Hello to those of you looking for baby to adopt, am Brothon by name and am from Maryland USA, lots have a set of twins boy and girl here, they don't have all it takes to take care of them as they have made their decision to put them for adoption, interested couples looking forward to adopt the babies should please contact Bronthonadoptionservice@ hot mail. com, they don't just want the little children to suffer anymore please HELP by coming to take them from me, or text xxxxx thank you. #12
Heather - 5 months ago
0 0 1
My sister wants me to adopt her unborn child and I would love too but I don't know where to start. Any advice? #13
louis - 1 year ago
0 1 2
How long would it take for an uncle to adopt his nephew to live with him in florida #14
Carole - 4 months ago
0 0 0
My husband an I have legal custody of our 2 yr old granddaughter the baby's father is no where to be found and our daughter is so strung out on Herion it's sickening she signed legal custody to us, but if she we're o die what do we need to do to adopt? #15
Siya - 4 months ago
0 0 0
My fiance wants to adopt my daughter. We are in SA and my daughters dad is somewhere in the UK and we have no contact. Can i just say "father unknown" ? #16
Ivan - 12 months ago
3 1 3
Im ivan, i am 11 years old and my brother is 10. My grandpa's sister has been taking care of us since birth. My mom is in the same city that i am in now but is addicted to narcotics. The last time i saw her was at my local church. She noticed me but stayed quiet, i noticed her because of the pictures i've seen throughout my life. I could tell she was still addicted, she was dirty had 2 other kids with her and with ripping clothes on. Another man walked in the church and stood in the back with her, im guessing that was her boyfriend. By the time they were about to serve the bread shr ran out in tears. That was the only time i saw her since i was born, i was 10 at the time. My dad still supports and I love my real biological parents very much still. I thank my real mom for giving birth to me and my brother so that i can live in the good hands that i am in now. we are now saving money for my parents now to addopt me and my brother. #17
Paden, Jarius, Zacheriah - 3 months ago
0 0 0
We will find each other some day soon #18
Paulina - 4 months ago
1 0 0
My sister in law lost her right with my nephews in court so my mom and dad adopted them so now the kids are there's but my sister in law is giving my mom a very hard time she hides and stocks them just 2 see them and I don't think that is right because she is in another relationship that my nieces don't like so they don't want her in there lives?? What can we do stop that??! #19
Megan - 4 months ago
1 0 0
I am 21, my little sister is 14. Our mother is very unstable and very mentally abusive to my sister. I would love to adopt her, and get her away from it all before she scars her for life or causes her to self harm or kill herself. What can I do? #20
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