In Michigan, a relative adoption is one which occurs between individuals who are closely related, as defined by the statute. I will help you to determine if you fall within the defined relationship. However, even if the relationship is not close enough to be defined as a relative adoption, you may still adopt the child as if you were unrelated.
The Usual Process of Relative Adoption in Michigan
The process of relative adoption is similar to the process for direct placement adoption from the birth mother’s and prospective adoptive parent’s view, but legally the steps vary somewhat.
Attorney Representation in a Relative Adoption
Since the parties in a relative adoption know each other, one attorney is able to represent both parties. Since families generally know each other, the issue of an open or closed adoption generally does not occur in a relative adoption. However, if concerns do arise, they will certainly be addressed.
Home Study / Preplacement Assessment
The home study in a relative adoption is generally done by the Court. However, if a family has a home study done by a licensed adoption agency, it may be used for a relative adoption.
Medical and Social History
Part of the family history is known by the prospective adoptive parents since there is a close relationship between one of the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents. However, since one of the birth parents is not related, the family history of that birth parent should be shared with the adoptive parents. As in a direct placement adoption, this family history is needed by the prospective adoptive parents for their care of the newborn as he or she grows. This is important because some conditions carry a hereditary component. Again, as in a direct placement adoption, the birth mother will be asked to sign a release of her hospital medical record and the medical record of the newborn so the child’s pediatrician can appropriately care for the child.
The birth family’s history and all papers prepared in connection with the adoption are provided to the Court.
A hospital plan for the birth mother and the prospective adoptive parents may be completed and submitted to the hospital. As in a direct placement adoption, this outlines the preferences of the parties, though it is in no way binding.
The plan may include the birth mother’s wishes regarding who may be present in the delivery room; if one of the adoptive parents gets a wrist band so they may go to the nursery to care for the baby; use of an ‘extra’ room on the mother-baby unit by the prospective adoptive parents; preferences regarding circumcision, pictures, who may see the child, etc.
I usually send the hospital plan to the social worker, who keeps it available for the nursing staff when the birth mother is admitted.
Once the birth mother goes into labor, the birth mother is “in charge” in the hospital because she is the patient and the legal parent of the child. The birth mother can change whatever tentative plans have been made in advance.
Placement at Hospital Discharge
After the child is born and the mother is feeling well enough to sign papers, papers may be signed that allow discharge of the infant to the prospective adoptive parents and grant them the authority to care for the child. These are the same papers used for temporary placement in direct placement, and are given to the hospital so they have legal authority to discharge the infant to the adoptive parents.
Consent to the Adoption
Consent to the adoption by the birth mother is necessary in a relative adoption. I am happy to discuss the details of that consent, and what is required, with you.
The Birth Father
As in a Direct Placement Adoption, the parental rights of the birth father will have to be terminated. The father must be given notice and may consent or state he does not wish to parent the child. Please see the resource page on Fathers and Adoption for further information on the birth father.
Formal Placement with Relative
After termination of the parental rights of the birth parents, the judge signs an order placing the child with the prospective adoptive parents for purposes of adoption and gives them authority to consent to all care for the child. The judge will order a period of supervision. Supervision is generally done by the court, and usually occurs once every three months. Supervision may last from three to six months.
After supervision for the required period of time, the adoption may be finalized. The adoptive parents may appear in court for the finalization, or it may be done administratively by the court.
After finalization, the state will issue a new birth certificate with the adoptive parents named as legal parents. The name will be also be changed on the social security card.
Consult with a Michigan Attorney About Relative Adoption
If you need assistance with relative adoption in Michigan, I welcome you to contact me for a consultation by calling 517-267-1500, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or completing my online information form. As a Michigan adoption attorney for more than ten years, I can help you navigate the legal system and guide you through the adoption process.