My cousin is about to go to prison and he has full rights to his 13 year old daughter and he is willing to let us adopt her. They live in Oklahoma and we live in Tennessee. What do we need to do?
In order to adopt your cousin's daughter you would need to hire an adoption agency or adoption attorney in both OK and TN. The first step would be to determine if the birthmother's rights have been completely terminated. If not, she would need to agree to the adoption, even if your cousin has full custody. If she does not agree to the adoption, it cannot move forward.
If she agrees to the adoption, you would need to have a home study done by an adoption agency in TN to determine if you home is a safe emotional and physical space for a child. The rights of both your cousin and the mother of his daughter would need to be terminated by the adoption agency or adoption attorney in OK. The court would also be interested in what the child felt about the placement before they would finalize the adoption. Finally, the adoption agency or attorney would need to submit paperwork in both TN and OK for ICPC, which is the paperwork authorizing an interstate adoption. Both states have to approve the adoption.
The entire situation would be further complicated if Child Protective Services is involved. If so, they would have to agree to any adoption plan.