18 answers

How Do We Adopt a Family Member's Baby?

My cousin recently told us she was expecting, but thinking about giving the baby up for adoption. She asked us if we would adopt her baby. I said of course. What is the next step. Do I need to get a lawyer or do we have to involve an adoption agency? Are we required to pay all the medical bills? Is this stuff that we have to decide between her and us? I just want this baby to be loved and well taken care of no matter if that is with the birth mother or us. Any one gone thru anything like this?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I am also an adoptive parent, but the process for domestic adoptions is very different than that of international.

Contact a lawyer who handles private adoptions (that's what you're doing) and they should be able to give you the info you need to get started. You will need the lawyer to draw up the paperwork as the first step is always the termination of parental rights. My understanding is that private adoptions are much easier than going through "the system", but as always talk to a lawyer who specializes in private adoptions to find out.

I think the issue of medical care/etc... is up to you and the birth mother, but you will want to put everything in writing up front.

More Answers

I am an adoption caseworker...do not go with an attorney...go with an adoption agency. They will be able to provide long term support in the adoption process and handle it in an ethical manner. I used to be a social worker for a hospital and too many times I saw adoptions happen through attorney's that were not ethical as adoptive parent's paid all sorts of fees that were not appropriate but they didn't know it and the attorney did not tell them. More importantly, adoption is not a one time decision...it is a lifelong process. Your cousin is going to need emotional support before and after she makes this plan. She needs unbiased information, education and support with all that is involved in adoption. As a perspective adoptive parent you are going to benefit from someone helping to guide you through this process as well (You may not feel that way now but will be glad of it when certain things come up that you weren't expecting).In most states (if not all) you will need a home study completed. It does not matter that it is a family adoption - this is typically a state requirement. The more appropriate way to say that your cousin is giving up her baby is to say that she is placing her child for adoption or making an adoption plan. It sounds more thoughtful and positive. I would talk to your local health and human services department for a list of licensed child placing agencies in your state. You cannot put anything in writing before a child is born. I saw someone say that in a previous post. Keep in mind that your cousin is trying to make an adoptin plan based on an incomplete set of facts. The plan sounds great now but when that living human being is actually in her arms it is another thing entirely to follow through with the plan and she has every right to change her mind. She is also going to need help in processing how she is going to feel at family functions as well as how people in our country treat birth parents after they place a child for adoption. In our state, agencies assist the pregnancy client (she isn't a birth mother yet) with enrolling in Medicaid and it is that insurance that pays the medical expenses. We have clients enroll in Medicaid so they are not making an adoption plan out of their concern for lack of insurance. Plus, if they decide to parent then the child has coverage for follow-up MD visits. Any expenses that are not covered by Medicaid would then be deferred to adoptive parents I believe. Call aroudn to the agencies in your state and ask them how they handle identified or family adoptions. What are their fees and when do they expect payment (many times you will pay the same for an agency that you do for an attorney). I noticed a few people commented and said they didn't know much about adoption but this is what they would do. One of the problems in the adoption world is that well meaning people give direction on a topic that isn't necessarily accurate or the most appropriate. Keep that in mind as you begin this adoption journey: friends, family and co-workers are all going to have their own opinions that may be based on fiction instead of fact. Many people get their adoption information of certain TV channels that do not portray adoption as it really is but rather in the 30 minute "warm and cozy feeling" segments. Good luck to you and your cousin! I hope it works out the way that is best for everyone...especially for the baby who does not have a voice/choice in this decision. Too many times, even with the best intentions, everyone loses sight of the most important person in this situation.

1 mom found this helpful

I found the following on the Illinois.gov website. It pertains to the (750 ILCS 50/) Adoption Act. Reading the information from the site may be the place to begin. Good luck, L.

Copy and paste the following to your browser:


1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any advice to this, and if I did, I don't know really what else I could add. Though it seems that an adoption agency is the way to go. With that said, I just wanted to comment on your wonderful and loving heart for wanting to adopt your cousin's child. She must think highly of you to even ask to begin with. Bless your heart and your family! I hope it all works out without any hiccups along the way.

B. Soodsma

1 mom found this helpful

I totally agree with Kim W. My other half and I are in the process of adopting his 18 month old niece and 6 month old nephew. A lawyer is definitely not the way to go. I don't know what they have in your area, but I believe Luthern Social Services may be statewide. The one thing that is different about our situation is that both of the kids were in a foster home before we got them. We actually petitioned the court ourselves for guardianship, and it was the best choice we made. I actually just called Luthern Social Services to see if they had an office in your area. They have an office in Wausau. Since it would be an independent adoption at this point, they said to ask for Beth Hanson. The number is 1-888-522-3678. Just ask for her. They have programs to work with you guys as the proposed adoptive parents and they also have programs and such for her, the bio mom. They are great people. Pretty much just about anything you need they will help you and if they can't they will figure out how to. They will advise both of you about what to do and work with each of you. Right now we are in the process of the homestudy that Kim W was talking about. It is a wonderful thing that you are considering doing. I hope the best for you, because believe me it is an emotional ride. My case is different, the parents wanted to keep the kids but the little girl was born with 4 drugs in her system and then when the baby boy was born, they took custody of him too, obviously. They are set to start termination of parental rights this month. We are so nervous about what is going to happen but yet excited for it to be over. We have had the kids for 6 months now. They were 6 weeks old and 13 months old when we got them. Just protect your heart, like everyone said in case she changes her mind. Just work together in the whole process. Like I said Luthern Social Services is a great resource and they are the ones that do adoptions. Good luck to you and your husband. If you would like to talk more, you can email me ____@____.com. I wish you the best, it is definitely a rewarding journey!!


Hi S.

I would get a lawyer and you and your cousin sit down with the lawyer and work it out . It would have to be a adoption lawyer . But he or she can help you work out all the details of the adoption . My brother and wife adopted a little girl my niece from a family member 3 years ago and they payed all the doctor bills . I am not sure what other bills they paid for her but it is worth it to make sure that baby is loved and taken care of . Good luck with every thing .

I'm not exactly in your same position but did adopt two bio siblings several years ago who still maintain some contact with some members of their birth family. You definitely want and need to have a lawyer (no agency required for a private adoption) to help you sort out the legal details and arrive at an agreement between you and your cousin about how open your adoption will be and exactly what each of you can expect at different points in the child's life. You will be the parent. What will the role of your cousin be in the child's life? What are her expectations? Yours? What, if anything, will you tell the child at different points in his or her life?

You may want to Google adoption resources or look on websites of local adoption agencies for links to resources (books, other organizations, etc.).

Really thinking and talking through these things now can help you to avoid misunderstandings and difficulties in the future and help you and the child preserve a good and healthy relationship with your cousin.

Good luck!

You are very lucky, our daughter is adopted and the most wonderful gift in the world. Our adoption agendcy was great and I'm sure that they could get you started with information. Children's Home Society of MN (and they may be able to help outside of MN, I think theyhave an office in Iowa etc. or would refer you). Check out their website at chsfs.org. There are links to adoption and information for birthmoms and prospective adoptive parents. Let me know how it goes. I admire your cousin for caring for her baby.

Hi S.,

I don't know anything about adoption nor have I gone through this type of experience, but I would guess that the agency Starr listed in MN knows the name of a similar business in Wisconsin. I noticed that's where you're located.

The IL documents seem like a great idea, too. I would look to see if a similar thing is posted within WI laws somewhere.

Good luck!

Iwould get a lawyer for sure. They will be able to tell you all you need to know. With it being family legalities may be a little different but not sure. Yu should definiately contact a lawyer.

Get a lawyer, NOW, and put into writing what the expectations are. It is up to you if you want to pay her medical bills or otherwise provide for her while she is pregnant, and many adopting families do provide financial assistance.

You will also want to outline what her contact will be with the baby after its born. Obviously, because she is your cousin, this will very much be an "open" adoption, but will you allow her to have the baby overnight, and so on?

Also, she can back out at anytime, even after the baby is born, if she hasn't yet signed the paperwork.

It's a wonderful thing your family is doing, and I hope it all work out!

Depending whether or not you have any county social workers involved at this point, most counties work with people for "kinship adoption". That could probably happen if cousin was on state medical assistance/financial assistance? Or if no other involvement, your cousin could allow you to adopt child and then you would need to hire an attorney or adoption agency to complete "legal adoption process, termination of parental rights". Either way I would speak with a family law attorney and possibly contact a couple adoption agencies to decide yourselves which option is better (for both parties involved)! Bringing a precious child into this world is a huge decision and affects everyone involved.. Keep open communications with cousin and definately share and talk about feelings with counselor. (Where is the father to child?? - His rights would also need to be terminated so check your states guidelines as to his rights) Congratulations - - I am waiting to adopt my 2nd child !

Please contact an adoption agency. Consultations are free, and they will give you ALL of the information you need and they offer counciling for both you and the mom. A lawyer will cost a bundle and may end up blundering. Please just don't set your heart on this because mom, doesn't know the emotion she will be experiencing, and is likely she could change her mind. Good luck with all, I am praying she goes through with it.

Im going through the same thing. The baby isn't due until June 2011 but I have no idea where to start. How much money this is going to cost. Im 25 and unable to have kids that i know of. This is something that I want more than anything. But im also so scared that she will change her mind. I don't know what i should start with or if I should wait until she gives me a def. answer. But then again I don't want to wait till last minute to get all the paper work together. Someone please give me some advice I really need someone to help me.

I'm an adoptive mom of two babies and an attorney. :-)You can do it without an agency but you do need to get an attorney for yourself and one for your potential birth mother. Good luck and try to protect your heart in the event she decides to parent.

Make sure she gets counseling before any decisions are made to make sure this will be the best decision for her. Having to watch you raise her baby may be harder than she could ever imagine. The relationship between a birth parent and adoptive parent is a very dynamic one, every stage of this baby's life will bring new and different feelings, and every stage of your cousins life will bring new and different feelings. While it's nice to say "it's all about the little baby", it's not, really. This relationship will affect everyone, even your extended family, and I urge you to participate in counseling to set some guidelines, expectations, and boundaries that everyone can agree on, all the while keeping in mind that these will change as often as everyone involved's hearts, lives and minds will change. Good luck to you and your cousin and the baby.

Yes, you definitely need a lawyer. You need one who has experience with adoptions. There is a lot of paperwork to be filed with the courts. You need protection also should either birthparent change his/her mind down the road. You will need it clearly understood who the parent will be. You can't have your cousin second-guessing everything you do, if you know what I mean.

My husband and I adopted two children. We made a pact between us that we would be the only source for information about the circumstances of the adoption for our children. We did not discuss details with the rest of the family. People sometimes speak without thinking of the consequences. Children can be hurt in the process. I hate to say it, but it's necessary to guard children from unthinking adults. Bless you for caring about this little unborn child and bless your cousin for choosing life for her child instead of abortion.

I am also an adoptive parent, but the process for domestic adoptions is very different than that of international.

Contact a lawyer who handles private adoptions (that's what you're doing) and they should be able to give you the info you need to get started. You will need the lawyer to draw up the paperwork as the first step is always the termination of parental rights. My understanding is that private adoptions are much easier than going through "the system", but as always talk to a lawyer who specializes in private adoptions to find out.

I think the issue of medical care/etc... is up to you and the birth mother, but you will want to put everything in writing up front.

You can contact a lawyer to help you through the process and, more importantly, to make sure that your rights are protected. My understanding of the adoption process in MN (I am an adoptive mother), is that you will have to go through the same process as if you were getting a foster care license (minus like one step). This means homestudies, etc., which are usually done through an adoption agency. We used HOPE Adoption in Stillwater, MN and they did a good job and I know that they are familiar with kinship adoptions since there were a few going on when I was going through the process.

Good luck

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