Adoptions generally happen in a few ways. A stepparent may want to adopt a child if the non-spousal parent is deceased or has no interest in raising the child. Parents often adopt new children through adoption agencies so the child can be part of a loving family. There are some situations where family members may adopt each other. A grandmother may seek to adopt a grandson if the grandmother’s son/daughter can’t take care of the grandson.
One unique family situation that does occur is when an older sibling wishes to adopt a younger sibling. For example, if the parents are killed in a car accident, an adult sibling may agree to adopt a minor sibling. The older sibling seeks to adopt the minor sibling so that the younger sibling isn’t placed in foster home or isn’t adopted by a non-relative.
While it may not be common, sibling adoption isn’t hard. You follow the same guidelines as any kinship adoption would.
The adoption requirements
The first requirement is that the parental rights must be terminated. In the case of death, the rights are automatically terminated. If the parents had a will, they may have designated who they want to be the guardian for the child. (A guardianship of a child isn’t the same though as adopting the child.)
There are a few other requirements before one sibling can adopt another sibling in Tennessee:
- The older sibling must be at least 18 years old.
- The older sibling must be related through blood or adoption.
The standard adoption requirement that the adopting parent live in Tennessee for six months before filing for adoption can be waived by the judge.
There is no requirement that the older sibling be married. The older sibling doesn’t have to have children of his/her own. The older sibling should be able to support the younger child and meet the child’s overall financial and emotional needs.
There are some practical considerations. Adoption by an older aunt, uncle, or other older relative may be more advisable if the older sibling is still fairly young and trying to figure out what to do with their life. It’s wonderful to keep siblings bonded, but other family relationships may work better.
At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, our family lawyers work to keep families together. When tragedy strikes and parents die; we help siblings decide if adoption, guardianship, or other arrangements work best. When parents aren’t acting responsibly, we guide relatives through the hard choice of terminating their parents’ rights of their minor children. To learn your options and to speak with lawyers with more than 25 years of experience, call us at 615-412-1121 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent families in Franklin, Columbia, Brentwood, and nearby Tennessee regions.