In most states, you cannot simply put yourself up for adoption. I know that I wanted to quite a few times growing up. However, it’s just not that simple. Keep in mind that rules and regulations tend to vary depending on the state, and there are legal hurdles involved.
There are some situations in which you might be able to get yourself adopted by someone else. Also, I can’t help but think about why you’re asking yourself this question. There are some options you have depending on your situation.
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Adoptions If You Are Over 18
This is a great way to formalize relationships. For example, my oldest is 17. She could not be adopted by her dad (not biological, but he raised her) without her father’s consent or his rights terminated.
Because of that, she will be adopted when she is 18. After that, she can be the beneficiary on his life insurance (right now there’s a verbal agreement between his son and him that he’ll split it with her.) She will also have access to his medical insurance.
If you are over 18 and want to be adopted, it’s relatively simple. You need a lawyer to draw up the papers, and you have to consent to the adoption. It’s an easy process. Costs will vary depending on the lawyer and the state.
Adoptions For Children Under 18
As long as you are under the age of 18, your parents have certain rights to you. In order for a person to adopt you, these rights have to be severed. This is where things get complicated. Luckily, I’ve looked into it quite a bit for my youngest.
Parents Rights Can Be Voluntarily Terminated
If both of your parents agree to have their rights terminated, there is a chance that you can be put up for adoption that way. A judge will typically approve this if another couple is already willing to adopt you.
However, a judge might not if it means that the state would be taking care of you and you would be put on an adoption waiting list. A judge does have the right to deny certain situations if there is not abuse and neglect.
Now, keep in mind that this is if you’re the one wanting to be adopted. If your parents drop you off at the local Children’s Services Office and abandon you, the courts will ask them to voluntarily terminate their rights. A parent can surrender a child to a public welfare agency.
Parents Rights Can Be Involuntarily Terminated
This is a process that typically happens when Children’s Services is involved. Parents have a specified amount of time, such as 15 months, to get it together so their child can safely live with them or they risk having their rights terminated.
If someone else has custody of you, they can file to have your parent’s right’s terminated so that they can adopt you. This is done by a court order. A person would file a motion to have the parental rights terminated, and the judge would approve or deny it.
Every state has its own qualifications that must be met in order for parental rights to be terminated.
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For example, in Ohio, grounds to terminate a parent’s rights include:
- knowingly placing the child in danger;
- failing to support the child;
- felony criminal conviction;
- sexual offenses;
- murder of one parent by the other parent; and
- causing the child to be born addicted to drugs or alcohol.
This is typically only done when a parent has had no contact with the child or provided support for an extended period of time. A parent paying $2 a month counts as them contributing to supporting a child, per the legal advice we received regarding my daughter.
A court can suspend visitation, terminate visitational rights, etc. without terminating parental rights, which we discussed regarding the littlest and her bio parents. I know, it’s frustrating.
In order to determine how this works in your state, consult an attorney. Most will do a free consultation. Police officers also provide good legal advice at times.
If You Are Abused Or Neglected
I understand not wanting to live with your parents, and if that’s the case, you have a case if you’re being abused or neglected. Children’s service agencies might remove you from the home if they feel that you are in danger.
Keep in mind that your parents will have an opportunity to straighten things out so that you can return home in some situations.
If you’re not safe at home, it is important to talk to a trusted adult. Tell your teacher or school counselor. Talk to another adult that you trust. Call Children’s Services yourself. Whatever you do, get help.
Please note that living in poverty is not considered abuse or neglect. I don’t mean to minimize the effects of living in poverty or anyone that is being abused or neglected.
However, there are some misconceptions about living in poverty being neglect that isn’t always true. It’s important to understand those. If you do think that you’re being neglected, make sure that you reach out anyway. It’s always better to be safe instead of sorry.
How Can I Get Emancipated?
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If you can’t put yourself up for adoption, you’re not completely out of luck if living with your parents is simply not in your best interest. Emancipation is another option.
Some states have no emancipation laws, like Ohio. Other states consider a person to be of legal age if they are married or join the armed forces. However, both of these often require a parent’s consent.
Other states allow a minor to file a petition for emancipation. Often, the minor needs to be at least 14 years old, but this age does vary in different states. They also need to not live with their parents, have a way to provide for themselves, etc.
Basically, you need to prove that you can be a grown-up and take care of yourself. This website goes into more detail for different states and is packed with information about emancipation.
Guardianship Is Another Option
If your parents don’t want to give up their parental rights but are okay with you living with someone else, guardianship is another option. Both parents consent to guardianship, and they can revoke it at any time.
Guardianship gives your guardian the ability to make decisions regarding you as your parents would. They can take you to the doctor. Your guardian can also help you get a work permit, enroll you in school, etc.
In most states, you cannot put yourself up for adoption. Your parents can. However, you do have other options. Seek help if you’re being neglected or abused. Consider emancipation. Talk to your parents about guardianship.