Woman Wonders If It's Out Of Line To Offer To Adopt Her Sisters Baby And Seeks Advice From The Internet
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It can be a difficult conversation to ask somebody to willingly give up their child, even if you believe that that is in the child's best interests.

u/chernandez0999 told us the story:

Would it be out of line for me (25F) and my husband (29M) to offer to adopt my sister's (22F) unborn child?

So my husband and I had our first child about a year ago and definitely want to add 1-2 more children to our family but via adoption. I had a horrible pregnancy and our daughter got some genetic problems she inherited from her dad's side of the family and we would prefer not to risk passing it on to subsequent children.

My sister just found out she is pregnant with her 3rd child with her boyfriend of 1.5 months. She is 22 with a 2 year old, 4 month old, and the baby in utero. Her boyfriend doesn't have a job, she is on a leave of absence from work for mental health issues (Borderline Personality Disorder and PPD). None of her kids were planned and she's not yet divorced from her husband whom she had the first 2 kids with (She left her husband for her now BF during her maternity leave). She makes $16/hr and is about to have her home foreclosed and car repossessed because she can't afford them along with daycare and other expenses. My sister has expressed interest in placing the new baby up for adoption to our mother but not yet mentioned it to me. My husband and I have considered offering to adopt her child but I'm not sure if it would be out of line to offer this arrangement to her?

TLDR: Sister (22F) pregnant with 3rd child. The father is her bf of 1.5 months. She mentioned placing the baby up for adoption to our mother but not me. Can I offer to adopt her baby?

Here was some of the advice she got.


I would probably ask my mom to broach the idea with my sister, as she is the one that the sister confided in. She could just ask if your sister would like that idea, if you were interested. If the answer is yes then you talk to her, if no then you avoid an awkward conversation.



In family adoptions can be really tricky, because the lines are blurred. Your child will have full blooded siblings that they will see all the time. Your sister will have to see her child that she gave up all the time. It can get messy.

I think that you can offer, but if she refuses, please don't be offended. It might not be the best arrangement for her, or what she thinks is best for the child.



Is it out of line to have the conversation? No.

But you have (HAVE to) have some very very clear boundaries with yourself and your sister if you do.

First for the conversation itself - if she says no, if she rejects it out of hand, or says yes and then changes her mind, that's the end of it.

If you did adopt the baby - it would have to be yours. Do it legally through the proper channels. "No takesie backsies" is literally the most important rule you can have once the baby is legally yours. The baby would have to be your child, not 'on loan', or it will end in tears and a broken family. Everyone would need to think of and treat the baby as if it had been bourn by you.

My parents almost (as in, days away from it being formalised, we had the baby in arms, we were all sold on the idea and expecting it to happen and bonded to her) adopted my cousin's daughter when I was a teenager. At the last second my aunt (a classic narc if you hang out on RBN) realised that if the adoption went through legally she would 'lose' control of the baby, that my mother and father wouldn't stand for any interference in raising her. Because her daughter (baby's mother) was underage, she was able to nix the whole thing. It was spiteful, it was horrible, it took a very long time for my parents to recover. The baby was ultimately given to strangers that my aunt thought she could manipulate - ironically, they played nice just until the papers were inked, then took the baby and ran right out of my aunt's circle of influence. My almost-sister is now a preteen and I hear she's doing well, but we still miss her in my family. It always feels like someone is missing.

I know how painful this can be if it falls to pieces, so it is worth really thinking hard about what kind of family you have, what sort of people your sister and her boyfriend are. Both have to agree. Both have to surrender parental rights. They will have an enormous amount of power over you until the adoption is legalised - and they might struggle to give up that power after the fact. Sit down with your husband and have a talk about what concessions you would be willing to make before you speak to your sister - she will have some conditions, and it's better to know how far you're willing to compromise before you start negotiating.

It is worth having the conversation, but your sister would need to be very very clear that she would have no right to input on your raising of the baby. It comes down to whether that's something that would work within your family dynamic.



Hi, I'm replying because this happened in my family exactly like the scenario you're describing.

Basically my mom was like your sister: young, irresponsible, and having lots of kids. I was the first child my mom had by her first boyfriend and my aunt (mom's sister) loved me to bits but hated the way my mom was raising me (poverty, barely holding down jobs, etc.). So when my mom got pregnant again by a totally different boyfriend, my aunt was pissed. So about a year after my sister was born, my aunt adopted her.

The outcome?

(1) I still call my sister "my sister" even though she is legally my cousin. We are both adults now, both went to college, are very happy with our lots, and I'm going to be a bridesmaid in her wedding!

(2) my sister had a lovely stable childhood that, as the eldest who just had to deal with being raised by a crappy mom, I was resentful about for a while. I often wondered why my aunt picked my little sister over me for adoption. But that passed by high school and I just sort of got over it.

(3) my mom has never gotten over it. She feels guilty everytime my sister/cousin calls her "aunt" instead of "mom"

(4) my mom and her sister (my responsible aunt) have a bad relationship still. But tbh I don't care. I still love my aunt and if my mom 25+ years later still doesn't want to grow up that's on her. I personally believe my aunt was very generous.

Anyway I hope this helps in some way! It isn't a crazy thing to do and I think for the child it can actually be really beneficial as it was for my sister/cousin!



Don't think this is a good idea. Your mom adopting is different because she is the grandma. You adopting as the aunt makes it harder. You'll want to raise a child your own way- and your sister coming in at any time to disrupt that wouldn't be Stable for the child. It's so tricky because she could change her mind later on...



So... this is a tough one because it's also quite emotional. Since I am assuming that she only discussed this with your mother, don't mention it unless she brings it up with you. Thinking her trust was betrayed like that would not be good. If she talks to you about it, maybe talking to her a couple days or a week after she confides in you would be appropriate. I can't tell you if your sister will think it's out of line however. If she is serious about this and likes you as a parent then it would hopefully provide a lot of peace of mind for her.



I don't think it would be a better idea than adopting from elsewhere. Your sister has some mental health issues and I can see some problems arising. Even if yo I fully legally adopt her child, she will likely still see herself as the mother and try to co-parent. She may feel entitled to make decisions or drop by unannounced. At worst, she may change her mind in the future and decide she wants the child back. While you would have legal rights, it would not be easy to navigate that situation



There was a similar situation that occurred in my family, but with a cousin and an aunt. My aunt and uncle are very well off and are good people, so when my cousin got pregnant, they offered to adopt her baby. She already had two other children who she did not have custody over, no job, and no steady living situation. However, they had one stipulation, THEY would be the baby's parents, not my cousin. My cousin was free to see the baby as much as any other family member would, but she would not parent the child at all. My cousin refused to do this, and eventually got the baby taken away by the state.

Not saying that it cannot be successful in some situations, but there has to be a clear definition of who is raising the child. Your sister would have to treat this child like a niece/nephew, not a child, which could be difficult.



Totally out of line in my opinion. I can see your logic but you are in the throws of your own emotions and you need to chill and clear your head.

Unfortunately, both the child and your sister (and her other children) would likely come to deeply resent that you would rather help by splitting a family, rather than help by supporting your sister to be a good mother to all of her children and fighting to keep her family together.

Your fertility issues are guiding you towards ideas that no one would recommend, our court systems, child protection, medical institutions etc spend Yonkers researching and trying to understand the best interest of the child. And it's always to stay with mum unless circumstances are extenuating, and in such an instance you couldn't just leave her other kids in that situation.

You are too close to the situation with your own personal issues going on, so it was a good idea to ask for advice. But also let these institutions and some facts about child welfare help balance your personal attachment to the issue.



I would not want to add a disabled child to your family when you've already got one child with health issues.

If you think the baby will be healthy, I think you could offer it, but I'd only do it if you sister gets her tubes tied. She's already got two children from a previous relationship and is pregnant by her boyfriend of 1.5 months and she's only 22. That is not normal, acceptable, or healthy. If you could convince her she is in no position to have more children, already has two and will struggle enough with those due to her BPD, and she gets her tubes tied, she'll at least not make her situation worse.


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