Can You Put a Baby Up for Adoption? [And Are There Requirements?]

Can You Give Up Your Child to the State? [What to Know]

Prospective birth mothers wondering how to place their child with the state can find that doing so is a complicated process, if not impossible. Here are some common questions you be asking about placing your child with the state:

  • How do I give up my child to the state?
  • I don’t want my child, can child welfare come get them?
  • How can I give up my child to CPS?
  • What other adoption options do I have?

Parenting is difficult, and a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy may find herself in circumstances that simply don’t allow for raising a child. Similarly, a mother already with a child but unable to provide for him or her for different reasons may be wondering whether or not she can give her child up to the state. Good parents know what’s best for their child (or children), so considering finding a better situation for them is done out of love and with their best interests in mind. But, before contacting your state, there are specific details you need to know.


For women considering placing their child for adoption with the state, there are multiple options to consider. It’s important to first note that “giving up” your child doesn’t make you a bad person. You aren’t giving up on your child; rather, you’re opting to find them a better environment with a family that can love and care for him or her as you would.

When it comes to state agencies and voluntary placement of a child, different states have different laws, resources and funding available. This can mean that at a given time, your state may not be able to take a voluntary child placement. It’s recommended that before making any decisions, you contact your local Department of Social Services or Department of Family Services to find out what options are available in your area. In many cases, you will find that “giving” your child to the state Isn’t possible, and you will need to contact a private adoption agency instead. If you are considering adoption for a newborn or infant, placing your baby for adoption with a private adoption agency is actually a better choice for many reasons, which we’ll get to below.

However, if your child is older, here are some other options to consider:

Respite Foster Care

While usually reserved for foster families, the state-provided service of respite foster care is offered to biological and adoptive parents in some states. The goal of respite care is to provide temporary, professional childcare without the parent having to terminate parental rights. This service can be expensive, but can also provide you with the help needed for whatever circumstances that are making parenting difficult and an alternative to “giving up” a child to the state.

Voluntary Relinquishment

This may also be referred to as “refusal to assume parental responsibility (RAPR).” The complexity of a RAPR revolves around the determination that a parent is unable to provide a safe and supportive environment for a child, but not being allowed to sign over parental rights. The state cannot order a parent to take care of a child for which she can’t provide a safe environment. A RAPR ultimately becomes a legal matter in which the state sues for custody and would be awarded by a judge in the best interest of everyone involved. Not every state has this option, and this does not serve as an adoption, but more as a challenging path of “giving up” your child to the state.

Relative Adoption or Temporary Legal Guardianship

If you’re wondering how you can give your child up to the state, a temporary legal guardianship might be a better option. This agreement is typically made with a family member or close friend, assumes legal responsibility for a child for a set period of time (often a couple of weeks to six months) while you improve your circumstances and the surroundings causing you to struggle as a parent. This option allows you to maintain your parental rights while taking a break from parenting, but still provide a caring and loving environment for your child. When the agreement expires, your child will come back to you, and you will continue being a parent to him or her.


Prospective birth mothers that want to “give up” their child to the state may not be aware of private adoption. Whether you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, have a newborn or an older child and parenting isn’t an option because of your complex circumstances in life or because you simply don’t want to parent, a private adoption with a licensed adoption agency is a great option. Most private adoption agencies specialize in infant and younger child (newborn to two years old) adoption, so if you’re a mother considering placing an older child up for adoption, first contact a local agency or attorney to refer you to the appropriate adoption agencies that may better fit your needs.

Adoption gives you complete control over the process, including which adoptive family is best for your child, where they live, their hobbies and interests and many more lifestyle details. When attempting to “give your child up” to the state, CPS can get involved, removing you from all decision making involving your child. Instead, working with a private adoption agency keeps those important decisions concerning your child with you.

An adoption professional will guide you through the adoption process, which includes:

  • Creating an adoption plan
  • Viewing family profiles to find the perfect family for your child
  • If you haven’t already delivered, creating a hospital plan laying out your wishes for your labor and delivery experiencing, including time with your baby and any visitation or contact with the adoptive parents
  • Determining any available financial assistance during your adoption
  • Gaining access to educational information and counseling
  • And more

Choosing adoption isn’t easy, but the benefit of being in control of your adoption and the decisions being made for the care of your child provides you with peace of mind that you’re making the best possible decision for you and your child.

Here are a few adoptions agencies to contact for more information:

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