Can I adopt my niece or nephew if something happens with the parents?

November 1, 2021 | 3 min read

If you and your spouse find yourself in a situation where you need to adopt a niece or nephew and have them be a part of your family, you do have options.

One of the most common avenues you and your spouse can pursue is a relative adoption, also known as kinship adoption. This type of adoption places a child with relatives.

This type of adoption is typically the first option considered by foster care specialists when efforts to reunite children with one or both of their parents have been exhausted.

Kinship foster care and caregiving is becoming more common. One study found that 32 percent of all children in foster care in the US in 2017 were placed with relatives. In fact, during that time frame, 35 percent of children adopted while in foster care were adopted by relatives. In some instances, a kinship adoption can recognize close friends as “fictive kin” and can already have a strong or significant relationship with the child.

With that said, if you’re related to the child in some way, there are things you should know.

What should I know BEFORE adopting a relative?

If you’re new to the adoption process, then it’s important to understand that adoption is a lot different from parenting kids at birth. That doesn’t mean it’s better or worse. It just means things are different. And you need to do your homework on this. That means learning and seeking assistance from an organization like Nebraska Children’s Home Society.

States like Nebraska make it easier for couples who are trying to adopt relatives.

If you’re looking to adopt, it’s important that you meet the eligibility requirements. Those requirements include:

  • Being married for at least three years
  • Living in Nebraska
  • Having medical insurance
  • Each spouse must have $50k in life insurance coverage
  • If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, you must wait three years from the date of filing before applying to the program
  • All applicants must be under the age of 48 at the time of the application and can participate until the first spouse reaches the age of 50
  • If you’re already a parent, your youngest must at least be 18 months old before you can apply
  • No income requirement, but you must be a homeowner

It also helps to keep this in mind when you’re going through the process.

  • Make sure your adoption agreement is in place before the adoption is finalized. If the birth parents are still involved, make sure there is clarity for them and you
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the term “orphan” especially if this is an international kinship adoption
  • If you already have kids and are helping them bond, ensure that your family is ready for this
  • Keep everything focused on the child. This is a big deal for them. Their interest in this process is a priority

If the parents are still involved, you could be doing an “Open Adoption” type of setup. That means that there will be an ongoing relationship between the birth family and adoptive family. This relationship dynamic between birth and adoptive families varies. What works for one family may not necessarily work for another. It’s important to put the child first when making all decisions.

It might not seem like a lot, but it can be. This isn’t a process to be taken lightly. You’re about to do something admirable and adopt a child that you know well, after all.

Whether it’s your first adoption or a child that you’re inviting into your family, it’s good that you’re doing this. We understand that it’s not easy, but we’re here to help you before, during and after the adoption.

Are you trying to set up adoption for a relative?

If you’re looking to complete up a relative adoption, then Nebraska Children’s Home Society can help you. Contact the Nebraska Children’s Home Society today to get the ball rolling on the adoption process.