You’ve decided to make one of the most difficult and unselfish decisions you’ll likely make in your entire life: you’ve made the heart-wrenching choice to place your children for adoption. As you progress towards the finalization of this choice, try to become 100 percent in tune with your feelings. Are you feeling overwhelmed and depressed by parenting multiple children? Have you come to the realization that you can’t properly take care of your family anymore, whether it’s because of lacking help, a physical or mental disability, losing a job, losing your home, or not feeling a connection to your children?. If you’re wondering just how to place your children for adoption, and if your children will be adopted together, rest assured there are many adoptive families who would be more than thrilled to adopt a family.
Make Sure the Father of Your Children Is on Board with the Adoption & Termination of Your Parental Rights
If possible, ask the other parent how he or she feels about placing your children for adoption. If they’re against it, they may take legal action to gain custody rights. When dealing with a birth father who doesn’t want to place your children for adoption, the laws regarding this vary from state to state. This article explains the importance of the birth father’s consent to the adoption of your children.
In most cases, the father has legal rights to the children if:
- You were married to him when your children were born
- His paternity is proven by a paternity test
- His name is on the birth certificate
- He’s written an acknowledgment that he’s the children’s father
You can continue to place your children up for adoption without the birth father’s consent by proving that the birth father’s unfit to parent. The father’s consent to the adoption won’t be needed if any of these attributes apply to him:
- He has a history of drug use
- He’s a convicted felon
- He’s homeless
- He can’t hold down a stable job
- He’s abusing and neglecting your children
- You’re a victim of domestic violence and the children have been witnesses of it
- He has an uncontrollable psychiatric illness he refuses to get help with
- He’s cruel and hostile toward your children
- He deserts and abandons the children
- He’s not concerned of the welfare of your children
If the father decides to consent to place your children for adoption, he must be present to sign off his parental rights. If you can’t find the father of your children, you can enlist the help of adoption officials. They’ll help by looking through the putative father registry, and do anything else they possibly can to locate him. If you’ve proven that you’ve tried everything to find him with no avail, the court will automatically terminate his rights.
Before you can legally place your children for adoption, you’ll first have to terminate your parental rights. At this hearing, a judge will determine if terminating your parental rights is what’s best for the children and will order that your rights are permanent to relinquishment, meaning you’ll no longer have legal rights to your children. In some states, your termination could be revoked up until the final termination decree.
Placing Your Family in Foster Care
Perhaps you want to place your children in foster care because you’re unable to take care of them. Are you thinking of calling CPS to take them? It’s a tough decision to relinquish your parental rights and give your children to the state, and there are many steps to go through. The state custody policies vary depending on where you and the children reside. Some states have you keep your parental rights while your children are placed in a home; other states try to see if your decision is in the best interest of everyone. Research your state’s custody policies regarding foster care to learn what the process would be in your own state, and gain an understanding of the termination-of-rights process you would need to prepare yourself and your children for.
There are some important things to know about putting your children into foster care. Siblings entering foster care can end up being separated and sent to live in different foster homes throughout the state, or even throughout the country. Depending on the ages of your children, the foster care process might be terrifying, especially for young children. After all, you’re all they’ve ever known their whole life. They might feel confused, afraid, and even heartbroken by being away not only from you but their siblings as well. If your children are preteens or teenagers, they may have an easier time understanding why they’re being placed in foster care, but they will likely still have feelings of anxiety and abandonment. Also, they might miss their siblings. Your social worker may be able to help you find a family that’s willing to foster or adopt siblings.
Remember to explain to your children that while you love them, you have reasons why you feel placing them in foster care is what’s best for them; share those reasons with them if you can. This article explains why siblings need to be kept together while they’re in foster care.
Looking for Relatives to Adopt Your Children (a.k.a. Kinship Adoption)
If you’re not comfortable putting your children into foster care, see if you have relatives that might adopt your children. Kinship adoption is when a family member adopts children due to them ending up in foster care, their parents’ unavailability to care for them, or the father of the children passes away. This article gives helpful information about kinship care. Find a relative you can completely confide in about why you don’t want to parent your children anymore.
Maybe you have a sister or a brother (who’s over 18), or an aunt and uncle that’s been trying to have children of their own but are struggling with fertility issues. Or perhaps your parents are wishing to adopt your children to stay close to their grandchildren. Placing your children with any one of them will keep them within the family, and near people they probably already love and trust. This can leave you with peace of mind knowing that your children are safe and well cared for.
Kinship adoption isn’t an easy process; in fact, it’s the most intricate adoption process. Sometimes your relatives mean well by taking on the responsibility of raising your children, but there are so many factors to consider:
- Your parents may want to be with their grandchildren, but they’re getting older and have already raised their children.
- Aunts, uncles, or your siblings could have their own family issues like a rocky marriage, financial troubles, health issues, criminal histories, addictions, and other issues.
- Your children may feel resentment towards you and your relative who wishes to adopt them.
- Your children may not want to be adopted by relatives.
- There may be disagreements about which relative adopts your children.
- There could be legal issues if the relatives choose to hire attorneys to assist with the legal procedures of adoption.
- Family members may be judgmental of why you placed your children for adoption.
- There may be difficulties with you and your children accepting the fact that you’re no longer your child’s parent.
Kinship adoption has its benefits for both you and your children, especially if there is sufficient communication. You can talk with the relative who wants to adopt your children about setting times to see your children, talk with them on the phone, or write them letters if they live far away. Learn your relative’s family dynamics and be confident that you’re placing your children in the right relatives’ care.
Finding Adoptive Families Willing to Keep Your Children Together
Many adoptive families would want to keep siblings together by adopting all of them. It’s very crucial that you find a family that’s not only open to sibling adoption but one that realizes the importance of sibling bonds. Adopting the children together may have a powerful emotional impact on them that should not be underestimated. Being adopted together could also help the adoption be less scary and worrisome for them because they’ll know their sibling or siblings will be with them.
You can go through an agency and request that the agent or social worker finds an adoptive family that’ll welcome all of your children and not just one. Once you have access to the family profiles that meet this requirement, you can look through them and see which ones you believe would be the best fit to adopt a family you can no longer care for.
Sometimes due to a large number of caseloads and limited resources adoption agencies have, it can be extremely arduous to get families who can take on adopting sibling groups. Other reasons why agencies may find it difficult to place your children with the same family could include the following:
- The children might have diverse needs.
- The children need one-on one-attention (especially children with special needs).
- The children may need individualized care for emotional or behavioral issues.
- Some adoptive families might only want one of your children.
- An older sibling may have claimed the “parent” role of the younger children.
- The children may be in constant conflict with each other, causing the agency to feel as if the children will also conflict with the adoptive parents.
If you and the agency can’t find an adoptive family to adopt all of your children, you can request that the separate adoptive families allow visitations where all your children can see each other again. Be aware that only Connecticut, Maryland, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Louisiana have a right officially put in place for sibling visitations.
There’s still hope for keeping your children together. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is a federal law that requires state agencies to make an effort to keep siblings connected so the agency can get federal funding. This act also requires that if the siblings are split up, they must be allowed regular visitations, and frequent interactions, unless it puts the children in harm’s way.
Once You Find the Family to Adopt Your Children
When you decide on an adoptive family, both you and your children will be able to meet them. It’s very normal for you and the children to feel nervous, but rest assured that the adoptive family will probably be more than willing to get to know you all. Your children most likely have mixed emotions of both excitement and sadness, and maybe even confusion if your children are 5 years old or younger. Although this part will be hard on you, encourage your children to feel excited to be going to a family that’ll take great care of them. When talking with the adoptive parents in an open adoption, you can make it known you plan on visiting your children whenever the adoptive parents approve and holidays if you’d like. Setting this in place will keep your children’s hopes up knowing their adoption isn’t a permanent goodbye.
Once the adoptive family is chosen for your children and the placement is a few months old, you, the adoptive parents, and the children will be ordered to attend a finalization hearing so the judge can decree the adoption of the children. The children will not be officially adopted until this takes place. The agency or attorney will let you know when this hearing will happen, and you, the children, the adoptive family, the family’s attorney, and the agency social worker are required to attend. The attorney representing the adoptive family will explain your case to the judge, the judge will review the case, and ask the adoptive family and the children questions to be sure the right family was chosen to adopt your children. The judge will then decree the adoption finalized and give the adoptive parents a certificate issued by the court.
You may grieve the placement of your children, but that’s ok; those feelings won’t last. Find adoption counselors, and talk with other mothers who also placed their children for adoption. You can eventually recover from the emotional process and come to value the life you gave your children by placing them with a loving adoptive family.