international kinship adoptionQ: My sister is an addict and is not able to raise her children. We are willing to adopt them, but should we get social services involved first? They are not currently in foster care, but they are being neglected.

A: According to adoption attorney Tim Eirich, if you have concerns that the children are currently unsafe and are being neglected, he would urge you to immediately contact social services and/or the local police department. If the children are currently safe in your care, then you may not need to get social services involved and, frankly, social services may not get involved if the children are living safely with a family member.

Some things you may want to consider when deciding whether or not to involve social services are the likelihood that birth parents will be able to get their act together and be able to reunify, whether there are other children involved who may be in danger, and the special needs of the children involved and your ability to pay for the services they will need.

Eirich recommends you consult with an attorney who specializes in adoption law and/or child welfare to determine whether you can pursue adoption or other options for custody, which will vary depending on in what state you reside. Creating a Family has resources for helping you find an attorney who specialize in adoption.

Tim Eirich is an adoption attorney with Grob & Eirich, LLC, specializes in adoption, child welfare cases, and assisted reproduction, and a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

For more information on this topic, listen to the Creating a Family radio show: Special Challenges of Kinship Adoption and visit our blog: 8 Crucial Tips For Kinship Adoption.

Image credit: Wayne S. Grazio