Adoption Help: Giving a baby up for adoption to a family member

giving baby up to family memberGiving a baby up for adoption to a family member is an option for many women.  Deciding who will be your child’s parents is probably the most important aspect of an adoption plan.  Some women feel that it’s best for the baby to keep him in the family.  Frequently, a family member will offer to adopt a child.

In this post I will answer:

  • Why women give a baby up for adoption to a family member
  • Can the birth mother get custody and visitation orders after the adoption
  • Who makes parenting decisions about the child after he’s adopted
  • Should you tell the child and other family members about the adoption
  • How much does a relative adoption cost
  • What are the pros and cons of a relative adoption

Why women give a baby up for adoption to a family member

There are many reasons why women might choose to give a baby up for adoption to a family member.  Some women choose adoption specifically because a family member is ready and able to parent.  Others choose to have a family member adopt so that the child will grow up with the family, close to any siblings.  When a family member adopts, the child will have access to all of the family social and medical history.

Can the birth mother get custody and visitation orders after the adoption

Generally speaking, a birth mother cannot get custody and visitation orders after the adoption is finalized.  However, the parties may agree to ongoing contact.  This agreement is not a custody and visitation order like the orders you would get if you were divorcing or separating.  Once the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents and have all the rights to custody and liabilities for support.

Who makes parenting decisions about the child

When you place a child for adoption, your parental rights are terminated.  At the same time, the adoptive parents’ rights are established.  A new birth certificate is issued with their names as the parents along with the name they give the child.  This means that the new parents will have all the same rights as a legal parent.  They can live where they want.  The adoptive parents make all parenting decisions for the child.  They make all decisions regarding discipline, where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice .  They also assume all financial responsibility.

Some women find this challenging.  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 make.

talk with your family and your child about the adoption

Should you tell the child about the adoption

Some women think it’s best to keep the adoption a secret from other family members and the child (the adoptee).  This is almost certainly a mistake.  Eventually your child will find out about the adoption and will wonder why he wasn’t told about it.  The adoptee might feel that there is something shameful or wrong about the fact of the adoption and that there is something wrong with him or her.  Therefore, it’s really important that family members understand why you chose adoption and why you chose that particular family member to adopt.  They should be prepared to share the adoption story with the adoptee as honestly and sensitively as possible.

Most adoptees want to know why their parents chose to place them for adoption with a family member.  It’s simply part of human nature to want information about who we are and where we come from.  For some, the adoption story is a source of comfort and a starting point in discovering their identity as an adoptee.  For others, the adoption is just a fact of their existence and doesn’t have more meaning than biology.  Your child may want to talk with you about this, and the important thing is to be prepared and to have given it some thought ahead of time to be prepared.

How much does a relative adoption cost?

A relative adoption is free to birth parents.  The adoptive parents pay for any services necessary to complete the adoption.  One of these expenses is the cost for a home study.  Every adoption requires a home study, and the cost for this ranges widely.  Generally speaking, it can cost up to $4,500.   The adoptive parents pay for a minimum of three counseling sessions for the birth mother.  If the birth mother wants her own attorney, then the adoptive parents cover the cost for this as well.

What are the pros and cons of a relative adoption?

The pros of giving a baby up for adoption to a family member are these:

  • The child grows up with the family and siblings
  • An adoptee has access to family medical and social history
  • The child has ongoing direct contact with biological parents

The cons or giving a baby up for adoption to a family member are as follows:

  • Birth parents might find it hard to watch someone else raise their child
  • The adoptee might not understand why his biological parents didn’t raise him
  • Extended family members might not be supportive of the biological parents and the adoption

I think this is an incredibly personal choice.  When facing an unplanned pregnancy, only you can decide which option is the best for your situation. Whichever option you choose, remember that you aren’t alone.  I have been there (read my story) and I can help.

Images Courtesy of Help With Adoption: Client photos printed with permission.

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Are you pregnant and thinking about adoption for your baby? I can help. You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information. Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption. I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.


Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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