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How to adopt or obtain guardianship of a 15 year old! Please help!

Ok, my husbands cousin was adopted into his family. We have two small children of our own and live in Iowa. I'm 21 and my husband is 24. She has been in and out of the hospital for trying to kill herself and its all because she gets picked on and yelled at all the time because she's not the "biological" family member. It is a very long story. We just need to know how we can go about getting custody of her. She's in the hospital again and my husbands cousin has no intentions of giving her up! She lives with her adoptive dad and grandparents....she needs help...they are doing the bare minimum health wise to keep her in their custody.....she needs help and people around her who will love her and we want her but have no idea where to start! Please help!

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Asked by leina2009 at 3:44 PM on Dec. 20, 2011 in Adoption

Level 11 (600 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • At 15 she could try to attempt to emancipate herself at which point she could decide to live with you if she wanted.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:46 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • Hire a lawyer and file for custody. It sounds like she has some personality disorder issues or problems it major depression that reoccurs. Simply moving houses is not going to solve the problem regardless of how mean or loving the environment is. The best place for her at this moment if she has suicidal and has a history of it is a psych facility or group home. You could try the dept of social services and seeing about getting her help in that way. If she is removed from her home she could be placed in a group home or hospital where she can then receive medical and psychological treatment while you try to obtain custody through family court. Good luck.

    Answer by gemgem at 3:47 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • Emancipation does not sound like an option for this girl though due to her suicidal attempts, and I doubt she has the ability to financial care for herself which is one thing courts look at.

    Answer by gemgem at 3:48 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • in iowa it is almost impossible to emancipate herself or she would've done it and moved in with us 3 years ago....I'm just at a loss and really don't know where to start

    Comment by leina2009 (original poster) at 3:48 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • yea. She got diagnosed with bipolar and major clinical depression at 13 and just recently schizophrenia. She needs therapy and medication. They are doing the bare minimum of all of that to keep her. I'm a SAHM and she's in highschool...She is such a sweet girl. Normally I would NOT let someone with these mental issues around my children but we can get her all of the help that she needs. Her "family" doesn't do much for her. They do the bare minimum so it's not neglect.

    Comment by leina2009 (original poster) at 3:51 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • Don't think there will be much you can do. If you call CPS and they take the kids, and if the parents give you permission, you can then take charge of the child temporarily.

    It all comes down to the parents. She is adopted so they have full rights. If they won't sign over thier rights, the only way is to get it taken away. Even if it was a small child being abused, the courts would give the parents many opportunities to change. At 15, she would be 18 before anything was decided.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:53 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • I think the best plan is to find a good lawyer who specialized in family law and go from there. I can't imagine there is much you can do...

    Answer by But_Mommie at 4:00 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • You might get some helpful information from the Probate court. They cannot give you any legal advice but can explain the process for guardianship.

    Answer by meooma at 4:02 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

  • I would think at 15 this girl could tell someone if she is being picked on and yelled at for not being biologically in the family, that is just horrific and emotional abuse. The fact that she is trying to kill herself should require a counselor or therapist working with her to find out why this is happening. Since the adoptive parents are not willing to give her up, it may not be easy for you to get guardianship or adoption unless they are proven to be unfit. I would start by talking to the hospital,counselor or therapist of your concerns and also talk to a lawyer. I hope this girl gets the help she so desperately needs. Don't give up especially if you feel this child is to someone about your concerns.

    Answer by Kellyjude1 at 8:03 PM on Dec. 20, 2011

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