Can You Give Your Child Up to the State?
4 Ways to Give Your Child the Support and Love They Need
Parenting is hard. It can seem like there are new challenges every day, and it’s normal for parents to be overwhelmed at certain times during their child’s life.
For some parents, though, those negative feelings constantly outweigh any happiness they glean from being a parent. Sometimes, because of a lack of other options, people in these situations may wonder: Can you give your child up to the state?
This is a very serious question to voice, and it usually is a sign of great distress from a parent. It is not, however, a sign that you are a bad parent. Good parents recognize what is best for their children. If you are wondering how to give up your child to the state, it is likely because you know you are not providing everything your child needs — and, out of love, you are actively looking for those resources, wherever they may be.
But, before giving a child up to the state, there are some important things you need to know first.
Consider Your Emotions
If you are thinking about giving a child up to the state, it’s important to recognize where your feelings are coming from. Are you simply overwhelmed at this point in your child’s life? Or are these concerns you’re having a symptom of a bigger issue?
No one can answer these questions but you — but our counselors are always here to help. While our professionals do specialize in private adoption, they can still provide counseling for people who are contemplating placing their child with another family, however they do it. These counselors can help you identify your concerns about and problems with raising your child, help you determine what the best path is for you moving forward, and even offer resources to help you make that decision a reality. For help, please call our counselors at 1-800-ADOPTION.
It’s normal for parents to worry that they are not doing the best by their children, and feelings of “not wanting” your children are actually more common than you think. We encourage that all parents in this situation seek out counseling, therapy and other local resources before making any life-changing decisions for them and their children.
If you have consulted all of your resources and decided that parenting is not in the best interest of you or your child, you probably want to know about the options available to you. You may have a few questions, like:
Can you give up your child to the state?
I don’t want my child anymore — can child welfare come and get them?
How can I go about giving a child up to CPS?
These are all valid questions to have if you are considering giving up your child to the state. However, the process of placing a child within state custody is a bit more complicated than simply dropping your child off with a social worker.
The paths for placing a child in state custody vary state by state. What is possible in one state may not be in another. In addition, different state agencies have different amounts of resources and funds available to them — which means that they may not have the space or resources to take a voluntary placement at a given time.
We encourage you to contact your local Department of Social Services or Department of Families and Children to find out which options are available in your area. Here are just a few examples of ways people go about “giving a child up” to the state:
1. Respite Foster Care
Respite foster care is usually a state-provided service reserved for foster families, but some states do provide this service to biological and adoptive parents who are in need of it. For these families, respite care comes at a cost, typically more than you would pay a traditional babysitter. It is a way for parents to receive professional childcare at times when they need a break for one reason or another. If you are interested in temporary care for your child without terminating your parental rights, respite care may be the right path for you.
2. Voluntary Relinquishment, a.k.a. “Refusal to Assume Parental Responsibility”
For most foster care cases, a state agency has determined a child is unsafe in parent’s home, and the child is removed involuntarily. On the other hand, a refusal to assume parental responsibility (RAPR) is a voluntary relinquishment of a child into state custody. Often, this occurs because a parent decides they cannot provide the safe, supportive environment their child needs.
These are usually complicated situations for both the surrendering parent and state authorities. A court will not allow you to sign over your parental rights in a RAPR, but they often cannot order you to take care of a child that you don’t feel you can keep safe. In this case, your situation will proceed as any other Child Protective Services case. It will often be presented before a judge, and the state will, in essence, sue for the custody of your children. You cannot just “give” your child up to the state; it must first be ruled that this choice is in the best interest of everyone involved.
This is not an option in every state. In some cases, you will retain parental rights while your child is placed in a conservatorship or a specialized home for any additional services they may need.
3. Temporary Guardianship or Relative Adoption
If you have thought about giving a child up to the state, you should consider the kind of life your child will have in state custody. Because many of these programs lack funds, resources and foster parents, your child likely won’t receive the kind of life you want for him or her. They may spend years moving between foster families, without ever being adopted by a forever family.
To avoid this future, you may consider a temporary guardianship or a more permanent relative adoption. In a temporary guardianship, you will place your child with someone you know and trust for a short amount of time. This may give you the opportunity you need to better your situation or take a break from your current struggles. After some time, you may find you are ready to take on the responsibilities of parenthood yet again. During a guardianship, you will retain your parental rights.
On the other hand, if you want to secure a safe, permanent future for your child, think about placing him or her with a trusted friend or family member. That way, you can still be an active part of your child’s life while giving them opportunities and support you may be unable to provide.
That said, do not go looking for a parent to adopt your child online. This is a very dangerous path to take, and you will not be able to ensure the safety of your child as you would with an adoption or family services professional.
4. Adoption Through a Private Agency
Finally, if you wish to avoid the unknowns of giving your child to the state, you may reach out to a local private adoption agency to find a home for your child. Certain infant adoption agencies will take children up to a few years old, while there are other non-profit agencies which can assist you with the placement of older children.
If you are considering placing an older infant for adoption, you can contact adoption counselors for free at 1-800-ADOPTION. They can talk you through your options and, when you are ready, help you start an adoption plan for you and your child. American Adoptions will always be here to support you during this difficult time.
If you have a child who is more than a few years old, we encourage you to contact your local state agency. They can often refer you to appropriate adoption agencies for your needs in your area.
Adoption through an agency may seem overwhelming at first, but it will provide you and your child many advantages, such as the opportunity to choose the family you want for him or her, as well as being able to maintain communication with your child through open adoption. It provides a guarantee of safety and love for your child in a way that giving up a child to the state often cannot.
If you are considering giving a child up to the state, remember that this is a life-changing decision. Before deciding which path is best for you, we encourage you to research all of your options, determine where your feelings are coming from, and take advantage of the resources available to you. Only once you do this can you make the best choice for you and your child.
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