HOW DO GRANDPARENTS WITH CUSTODY OF THEIR GRANDCHILDREN DECIDE WHETHER TO ADOPT?
Often, grandparents find themselves (sometimes rather suddenly) the legal or physical custodians of grandchildren that they did not plan to raise. Of course, the first hope is that the parents will be able to move past whatever difficulty keeps them from raising the child and take the child home. But when this doesn’t happen, grandparents are faced with a difficult choice about whether adoption is the right option for their family. If you are uncertain about whether adoption is the right path, consider the following:
ADOPTION IS ABSOLUTELY FINAL AND CAN NEVER BE UNDONE.
Should you decide to pursue adoption of your grandchildren, you will have to first petition the court to terminate their biological parents’ rights (learn more about termination here). This is a critical, final decision with life-changing impacts on both parent and child, and it should never be taken lightly. However, if you think that your grandchildren’s parents’ problems are only temporary, or if you have serious concerns about your own ability to raise your grandchildren to adulthood, adoption may not be the best choice for you.
RAISING CHILDREN—ESPECIALLY YOUNG CHILDREN—CAN BE PROHIBITIVELY DIFFICULT.
If you already have physical custody of your grandchildren, you have, no doubt, noticed that they can be a handful. Depending upon your age, financial status, and physical health, you may need to consider whether you can physically undertake the challenge of parenting once again before you decide to adopt.
ADOPTION CAN MAKE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN ELIGIBLE FOR CERTAIN BENEFITS.
A legal adoption can sometimes cause your grandchildren to become eligible for certain benefits they wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for—like certain scholarships or social security benefits. To learn more about getting social security benefits for an adopted grandchild, see the benefits from the Social Security Administration or our post Social Security Benefits for Adopted Grandchildren.
ADOPTION PUTS YOU IN CONTROL.
Once a grandparent adoption is final, adoptive grandparents have the right to control the upbringing of their grandchild to the same extent that any biological parent would. That means that the grandparent has full control over medical and educational decisions for the child. It also means that the grandparent has full control over who the child may interact with. Once an adoption is finalized, the adoptive grandparent does not have to worry that the child’s biological parents will come and try to take the child away from them. However, if the child’s parent ever does become safe for the child to be around (and there is no court order against it), the grandparent has the sole discretion to decide when, whether, and how to allow visitation between parent and child to take place. For many grandparents, this ability to safeguard their grandchild is the most important factor in deciding whether to adopt.
Deciding whether to adopt your grandchild is a complex and highly personal decision that only you can make. Held Law Firm has helped grandparents with this process in the past, and you can read one perspective here. If you do decide to go forward with an adoption, or if you just want to learn more about what the process would look like, call us at (865) 637-6550 for a free consultation.