Consult a Grandparents Attorney When Looking to Adopt
Video Transcribed: Grandparents’ Rights: What Is Adoption? Hi, I’m Oklahoma Grandparents Rights Attorney, Justin Mosteller. I’m going to talk to you a little bit about adoption today, and adoption is a very large subject, so we’re only really going to skim the surface. But grandparents may find themselves in a situation where they need to adopt their grandchildren.
Now, first of all, in an adoption case, it typically will arise either through a deprived case where the parents have failed to work their services with DHS. A deprived case is when the state takes custody of a child.
The other circumstance that adoption might arise is if the grandparents have been a long-term guardian or have been taking care of the grandchildren for a long time, acting in what’s called loco parentis. That means in place of the parents. In those situations, adoption might be a viable option. Really it’s about providing the best long-term stable environment for a child, and if it’s the grandparents, then that’s great.
Now, in order to proceed in an adoption, it matters which way the adoption case is arising. If it comes out of the deprived case, at that point, generally, the parents will have their rights terminated in a trial leading up to this.
And at that point, you file a petition to adopt into the deprived case, as well, and also just on its own, and it proceeds to the best interest hearing. Now, there might be more than one party that’s seeking adoption, in which case, those best interest hearings can get kind of hairy.
You definitely want to have counsel for this type of case. In the event that there are no disputes, and the grandparents are kind of standing unopposed and seeking the adoption, obviously that’s a much less complicated case. But adoptions are still complicated by their very nature, so it’s most likely not a good decision to go it alone on these kinds of cases.
Now, if the case is coming from guardianship, then at that point, you will need to go through a two-step process. The first step is your petition of adoption and filed along with that will be an application for adoption without consent or for finding that the child is eligible for adoption without consent.
Now, children are eligible for adoption without consent if a parent in Oklahoma has failed to maintain a substantial positive relationship with the child, abandoned the child, or failed to pay child support for the child for a period of 12 out of the last 14 months. And all of those circumstances really require that same time period.
The case gets divided into two hearings. The first hearing is the eligibility hearing, and that hearing you need to demonstrate that the child is eligible under one of those statutory rules that we just discussed. Abandonment, failure to financially provide, failure to maintain a substantial positive relationship with the child.
Once you clear that hurdle, it’s not done yet because the next phase is in the best interest. In the best interest hearing, you have to show by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child would be for the petitioner’s, the proposed adoption.
The grandparents in this case are a better placement than wherever the child was or a better long-term result for the child to have the grandparents adopt than to, say, just maintain the guardianship and give the parents additional time to correct the conditions that led to it.
Once you’re through those two phases, at that point, there are just some hoops to jump through and some paperwork to do. DHS might do a home study. They might also waive it if you are the grandparents and have been married together for more than a year and a few other checkboxes that have to be gone through.
If the case comes from the deprived side, then DHS is going to be a real prominent feature in that case, and you really need DHS on your side to succeed. But in the guardianship context or just the in loco parentis context, It really is just up to us.
Hopefully, this has answered some of those questions you might have about adoption. If you have any more questions or you need to discuss your situation, feel free to seek counsel from our office to speak with a Grandparents Rights Attorney in Tulsa.