What is a kinship adoption?
A kinship adoption is an adoption of a child by an extended family member. An example would be a child’s Grandma, Grandpa or maybe an Aunt, or Uncle.
If a kinship adoption is occurring the circumstances are not typically ideal and can be very heartbreaking for many people involved.
Substance abuse is a prime example of why a kinship adoption may occur.
The great thing about a kinship adoption is the child or children remain within their family who they are usually already familiar with. Which can help with a smoother transition for the child or even other family members.
In many cases it is preferred that a child that needs to be adopted remains within family but sometimes it just cannot be done. And that’s ok. Each adoption case has a story and is different.
Having had guardianship over my niece now for over two years and legally adopting her with my husband I would like to share the struggles of a kinship adoption and maintaining an open relationship with the birth mother.
(It is entirely up to you if decide to keep an open relationship with the birth parent or parents. It’s difficult because the birth parent or parents are related to you in some way and your relationship is now impacted and will no longer be the same going forward.)
I am sharing these struggles for other people that may be in the process of adopting a family member or having to make the decision of taking a child in and gaining an idea of what to expect if you accept this responsibility.
What matters is doing the absolute best for the child.
I am sharing these struggles so YOU reading this have an idea on what to expect when adopting a child and maintaining an open relationship. I hope this will allow you prepare in some way and to go into this process aware and confident.
5 Struggles Of A Kinship Adoption
1. The Whole Family is Affected
When you take in a child within the family the whole family is affected. If the child has other siblings it can be even more of a challenge because they may not know the whole situation. Family members are hurt, upset, concerned and it takes a toll on everyone. The family members that are very affected are the ones taking the child in. It can create hardships within your own family and significant other. It can be even more difficult adapting when you have children of your own for many different reasons.
2. It’s Drama And A Whole Lot Of Emotion
The relationship with the birth parent or parents becomes very unstable. The relationship will be different and emotions will constantly be high. The birth parent or parents are more comfortable saying how they are feeling or saying very inappropriate things because they can “get away with it” because you are indeed kin. Hurtful actions and words will take place and you can’t take what is being said or done personal. Easier said then done.
3. Developing Boundaries And Ensuring EVERYONE Is On the Same Page
A birth parent or parents may have lost custody but they will expect to still be able to see their child whenever they want. They also may expect to still have a say in the raising of the child.
The child is no longer in their care. This is where you need to establish boundaries. The child was taken away for a reason and when the boundaries are set it is very important that the rest of the family respect your wishes. This is the struggle. Not everyone will be on the same page with your boundaries. You may be blind sided at times and will have to constantly remind other family members what is and what is not okay when it comes to the birth parent or parents.
4. Doing What Is Best For The Child
Other family members will share their input and it’s hard to separate those feelings and what’s really best for your child. You will want to accomadate to what they want or you will try to make everyone else happy. It’s easy to lose track of what’s best for the child because now relationships with other family members are interfering and you don’t want to upset or hurt anyone. It’s very difficult and it becomes very upsetting when other family members are upset with you when you are just trying to do what’s best for your child. They will have a difficult time seeing things from your side and perspective.
5. Not Receiving Empathy/Lack Of Support
Some family members will not take the time to really notice the struggles that you are facing or even take the time to understand how hard this has all been. Especially when it happens out of the complete blue. This is why it feels like you are going through this alone at times.
People have a hard time understanding that you made THE CHOICE to take the child and other family members will take advantage of the situation not truly realizing what your position truly entails. Especially as you move forward and as the child gets older. If you decide this or that, a family member may lash out at you because they don’t agree with a decision that you made. When really, you should be supported whether they like it or not.
The birth parent is asked about, the child is asked about, but often you won’t be asked how this is all affecting you.
With writing this my goal is to share common struggles you may face when handling an open kinship adoption and to ensure you that you are not alone.
It’s hard. I know it is.
But I also know the many amazing things that come out of a kinship adoption. Before we took in my now daughter I remember googling the pros and cons of taking in a family member because I wanted to know what to expect. I knew taking her in would be hard and would open plenty of cans of worms but I also knew it was the right thing to do.
You are doing the right thing and that child you may have now is very fortunate to be with you. YOU, are their parent. Despite the struggles you are facing and will face there is no better place they could be.
To the person or persons taking in a Child within the family:
What you are doing is brave and takes courage. I want you to know you are doing the right thing even if you feel confused and stressed right now. Taking a child without any time to prepare is extremely challenging and many others don’t know the hardship of it all.
You are not alone in how you feel, you are not alone in this process, and you are not alone with your decisions.
There will be challenges and there will be tears, however, there are many rainbows within these storms I can assure you.