Adoption, even a kinship adoption, is not a cookie-cutter process, though it can appear simple. While one family may experience a seemingly easy process with few hiccups or obstacles along the way, another family may encounter roadblock after roadblock, which can extend the adoption process and cause significant amounts of stress.
To help avoid complications or significant issues during your kinship adoption, it is crucial to know the facts and partner with a reliable adoption lawyer who can guide you through the process, offer beneficial consultation, and file for finalization when the time comes.
Check out these common questions about kinship adoption along with our informative answers.
What Is Kinship Adoption?
A kinship adoption, sometimes called a relative adoption or family adoption, transfers legal parental rights from a child’s birth parents to adopting relatives. Those who qualify to adopt via a kinship adoption can include:
- Older siblings
In most cases, extended family members and “fictive kin” – people who have a relative-like bond with the child but who are not biologically related – must pursue a private adoption if they would like to gain legal parental rights.
Besides Being Related, What Other Criteria Are Required in a Kinship Adoption?
There are a few additional criteria one must meet to successfully adopt a relative in Georgia. The relative must:
- Be a Georgia resident
- Be 21 years old or older
- Prove they can provide adequate care for the child
- Adopt jointly with their spouse, if married
What Are Common Reasons for Kinship Adoption?
When a child’s biological parents are no longer capable of providing adequate care, relatives may step in to adopt the child and gain legal parental rights. Reasons to pursue a kinship adoption can include:
- Death of the biological parents
- Repeated child abuse or neglect
- Substance abuse by the parents with either no attempt at recovery or multiple failed attempts
- A biological parent suffering from severe and prolonged mental health challenges
- Long-term incarceration of the parent(s)
- The parents’ general inability to properly care for the child
What Are the Benefits of Kinship Adoption?
Kinship adoption is beneficial to both a child and their family for several reasons:
- It keeps the child surrounded by the family members they are familiar with.
- The child can lean on family bonds for support and comfort rather than having to start fresh with a new and unfamiliar family.
- The child can remain better connected to their culture, heritage, or religion.
- The family can provide more security and stability for the child.
- The family can make important decisions about the child’s care and help ensure the child’s best interests are put first.
Is Stepparent Adoption the Same as Kinship Adoption?
In less common cases, a stepparent can participate in the equivalent of a kinship adoption. However, most stepparents participate in a stepparent adoption where they gain legal parental rights of a child if they are married to the custodial parent. Stepparent adoption puts the stepparent on the same level as the biological parent and provides benefits like:
- Legal responsibility for the child’s care and well-being
- Legal say over any necessary medical treatment for the child
- Rights to include the child in things like health insurance plans and legal wills
Does Stepparent Adoption Terminate the Rights of the Non-Custodial Parent?
In order to pursue a stepparent adoption, the noncustodial parent must first agree to terminate their rights. Or, the stepparent must petition the court to terminate the non-custodial parent’s rights. Once these rights are terminated, the stepparent may pursue legal adoption of the child.
What Is the Process for Kinship or Stepparent Adoption?
To pursue either a kinship or stepparent adoption, there are four main steps that must be completed:
1. The Biological Parents’ (or Parent’s) Rights Must Be Terminated
In a kinship adoption, the parents must terminate their rights (or have their rights terminated) before any relatives can pursue adoption. In some cases, only the mother will have to terminate her rights if she is the only parent with rights of her child. (This is most common in cases where the child was born outside of marriage.)
In a stepparent adoption, the non-custodial parent must terminate their rights (or have their rights terminated) before the stepparent can pursue adoption.
2. A Home Study or Simple Investigation Is Performed
All adoptions require an in-depth home study to ensure the adoptive home is safe and the family can provide adequate care. In many cases, the court will agree to waive the home study for stepparents and relatives. Instead, the court may order a simple investigation.
3. The Adoptive Parents Will File an Adoption Petition With the Court
When the adoptive family passes the home study or simple investigation, they and their legal team will file the petition for adoption with the court.
4. The Adoption Will Be Finalized at a Hearing
The adoptive family and their attorney will attend a hearing where the judge will finalize the adoption.
Platt Family Law Can Assist With Kinship Adoptions or Stepparent Adoptions
At Platt Family Law, we help relatives and stepparents adopt children by guiding them through the adoption process and ensuring all appropriate paperwork is submitted correctly. Even in complicated, contested cases, we work through the difficulties to reach finalization sooner rather than later.
Let the adoption lawyers at Platt Law Firm work for you to achieve a smooth, hassle-free adoption process.
We are a dedicated, all-female law firm that guides adoptive families in Roswell and Metro Atlanta through the adoption process. We advocate for your adoptive family, provide informative consultations, and check to ensure all necessary documents, contracts, and other paperwork are properly submitted so you can reach finalization without incident or minimal incident. Schedule a consultation with our firm today to begin the adoption process with confidence! 404-255-3434