Legal guardianship can be a great path for a parent when they cannot provide the opportunities and support they want their son or daughter to have. By placing their child with a guardian, they not only give their child a loving and welcoming home but they also give themselves a chance to better their situation, becoming a better parent at the same time.

Whether you’re the legal guardian of a child or a parent considering placing your child with a legal guardian, you probably have a few questions. One of them might be: Can a legal guardian put a child up for adoption?

It’s a reasonable question to ask. Because a legal guardian receives custody of the child at the center of the process, they also receive the right to decide what’s in the child best interest — whether it is medical decisions, educational decisions or other choices.

But, is the ability to place a child for adoption included in those rights?

If you’re asking this question, the best course of action is always to contact a local adoption attorney. Adoption and guardianship laws vary by state, so only a local professional can provide a personalized answer for your situation. In the meantime, learn about some of the basics of this legal process below.

Can a Temporary Custody Holder Put a Child Up for Adoption?

As mentioned above, a legal guardian has the right to make decisions in the best interest of the child in their custody. If a guardian cannot provide the kind of care they originally pledged to give, and the child cannot safely be returned to their biological parent, it may beg the question: Can a legal guardian put a child up for adoption?

In most cases, the answer is no.

There is an important legal aspect of temporary guardianship that plays a huge role in this answer. It’s also an important thing for every birth parent and potential legal guardian to know before choosing this path.

In a legal guardianship, the rights of the biological parents are not terminated. While a child’s birth parents do choose to place him or her with other parents (“guardians”), it does not mean that the birth parents are giving up their responsibility to parent their child. In most cases, parents who set up a temporary guardianship are still financially responsible for their child and will retain their parental rights until specific legal steps are taken.

In a temporary guardianship, the rights of the guardian and the rights of the biological parents co-exist at the same time. Therefore, a guardian cannot choose to place a child for adoption without the consent of the child’s legal parents.

Therefore, while a guardian is responsible for a child’s needs, they do not have the ultimate ability to place that child for adoption. Only the child’s biological parents can do that.

How to Change Guardianship of a Child

Sometimes, people who ask, “Can a temporary custody holder put a child up for adoption?” do so because they can no longer provide the care and support they could at the beginning of the guardianship. To them, adoption seems like the best way to provide a child with the responsible family he or she needs.

However, there is another way: a change of guardianship.

Personal situations change, and it’s common for any parent to feel overwhelmed at a point in their parenting journey. Before a guardian starts making plans to change guardianship of their ward, it’s important that they contact the child’s biological parent. Taking this legal step without the biological parents’ consent and involvement will make it much harder, even impossible.

The first thing you’ll want to do is contact a local adoption attorney — maybe even the one who arranged the initial guardianship. They will explain your local laws and how to change legal guardianship in your situation. Then, they will guide you through the process ahead.

First, your attorney will help you fill out any necessary guardianship forms. These forms will be filed with the appropriate local court. All affected parties will be notified with copies of your court papers, so they are aware of the plans to change guardianship of the child.

Guardians will likely need to appear before court as part of this process. During this appearance, they can ask to be relieved of their guardianship duties, and the court (or the biological parents) will appoint a new guardian. Usually, in this situation, all parties will be in agreement, and the process will go rather smoothly. However, it’s still necessary that you work with an adoption or family attorney to follow all required steps and protect the safety of the child at the center of the process.

If you are interested in a change of guardianship, you can start your search for a local attorney with this database.

Above all else, remember that a legal guardian cannot put a child up for adoption — only biological parents can.