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The Facts You Need to Know About Temporary Adoption

Temporary Guardianship Could Be the Help You Need

If you have recently given birth, or are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you may have found yourself in a position where life seems far too difficult to manage, and the responsibilities of parenthood only add to that. But what can you do?

You have options. You can:

Because of the permanence of adoption and having to surrender your parental rights, you may be wondering about temporary adoptions, or “giving a baby up” for adoption to a family member short-term. This makes sense — you love your child, and you don’t want to lose them. But you also know you need help, and getting that help while also being a parent won’t work.

Temporary adoption, however, isn’t the answer. At least, it’s not quite the answer. The idea of temporary adoption for a child slightly misunderstands the adoption process. That being said, there is a solution that fits what you are looking for, and it’s called temporary legal guardianship.

American Adoptions specializes in domestic infant adoption, and we would be more than happy to discuss the life-changing benefits adoption can provide for you and your child. We also understand that you are at an overwhelming stage in your life and that reliable information on the options you have available for your situation is highly important.

You can call us at 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a trained adoption professional anytime, 24/7, or you can get more information here. Until then, continue reading this guide on temporary adoption and the options you have available.

I Want to Give My Child Away Temporarily

Oftentimes, when discussing adoption with prospective birth mothers, we hear the comment, “I want to give my child away temporarily.” Although there are situations where this can ultimately occur, if you are asking, “Can I temporarily adopt my baby out?”, the answer is no.

Adoption requires the use of attorneys and court systems to ensure the process is being completed legally and ethically. When you place your baby or child for adoption and complete the adoption process, it is always a permanent decision. This is true regardless of whether you don’t personally know the adoptive parents or if you are giving a baby up for adoption to family members. This is a legal matter, and it is in the best interest of the birth mother, adoptive family, and child for the decision to be final when a placement is made.

In an adoption, the birth mother does not make her final adoption decision until she completes the paperwork near the end of the process. In the case of infant adoptions, a prospective birth mother cannot complete this paperwork until after her child is born. Once the adoption paperwork is signed, and any applicable revocation period has passed, parental rights are officially terminated — which is why there cannot be a temporary adoption.

This doesn’t mean the connection between the birth mother and child will be terminated. More than 90 percent of domestic infant adoptions include some form of openness. In the modern adoption process, goodbye doesn’t have to be forever. Through different forms of communication, a birth mother can stay connected with her child, even after a placement has happened in adoption.

For some women, knowing that “goodbye” isn’t forever gives them the comfort they need to proceed with a permanent adoption decision. However, for others, this could be disheartening information. Even with the possibility of open adoption, you may not want to cut parental ties to your children permanently. You know you need a break to get some things in order, but you don’t think adoption is the right answer in your circumstances. There is still good news. When you ask about temporary adoption, the idea you have in mind does most likely exist. It just goes by a different name.

What is Temporary Legal Guardianship?

Guardianship is a term that refers to the act of one individual assuming legal responsibility for another. This involves care, protection, handling of health, education, and more. Typically, guardianship involves an adult assuming responsibility for a minor who is not their biological child, although guardianship can also be given to adults.

A temporary legal guardianship is a guardianship arrangement with a specific purpose for a set length of time. The responsibilities are similar to those of an adoptive parent, but the situation is not permanent. This isn’t a temporary adoption, but it is likely what you had in mind.

Temporary guardianship can be formed voluntarily — meaning you can choose the guardian and help set the terms for the arrangement. Unlike when a child is placed into foster care, this can be your choice as the mother. There may be many different reasons to choose this route — it could give you the time you need to find a steady job, complete a rehab program or find housing. These are all acceptable reasons to seek out a temporary guardianship for your child.

Who Could Be My Child’s Temporary Legal Guardian?

You can choose the person, or couple, who you would like to be the temporary guardian of your child. Family members, friends, or close acquaintances are often selected to be temporary legal guardians. This is an important decision to make. You need to be sure that you are choosing responsible people who you can completely trust. And, of course, you will need to choose someone who has agreed to this plan.

While this is not a temporary adoption, you are choosing the people who will take care of your child, even though they will not assume the role of parent. The distinction between temporary adoption and temporary guardianship is important because the relationship roles need to be defined. A guardian is not a parent, which is important for a child to understand. It’s also important to know that you will maintain some responsibility for your child during the term of the guardianship, and you may be required to continue supporting them financially while they are in a temporary guardian’s care.

How Long Can Temporary Guardianship Last?

Each state has unique temporary guardianship laws. Which state you live in will determine how long your temporary guardianship can last. Typically, this arrangement lasts up to 60 days. If your initial hope for temporary adoption involved a longer time range than this, there is still a chance that a temporary guardianship can be established for longer than 60 days. However, it is not as common.

Who Can Help Me with Temporary Legal Guardianship?

As with any matter concerning family law, it is a good idea to contact a trustworthy attorney about your temporary guardianship plan. In order to legally establish this guardianship, there will be paperwork involved that may be difficult to understand. Having an attorney to guide you through the process will make sure everything is correct and being completed legally and ethically.

If you’re still in the process of deciding on your best option, we can provide you with more information on how choosing adoption for your baby may be the best decision you make. 

No matter what the circumstances are, help is always available. If you’d like to schedule a time to speak with an adoption specialist about making a permanent adoption plan for your baby, you can always fill out our info form for free information.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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