Helping Grandparents Adopting Grandchildren
It is a fact of life. More and more often, grandparents reach a point where they feel compelled to take on the care of their grandchildren. It can happen for a variety of reasons. Unavoidable tragedy sometimes rips parents from children. Other times, parents’ personal growth is out of step with their parental role. Particularly in the context of an ongoing opioid crisis, children are all too often the unintended victims of parental addiction.
When a parent is unable to care for a child, for whatever reason, grandparents often step in to fill the void. Grandparents put retirement on the back burner and take on the job of parenting their grandchildren rather than entrusting them to the foster care system. Sometimes, the best way to do that is to adopt.
And for that, grandparents often need help negotiating the ins and out of adoption.
Grandparent adoption can often provide a child with a safe, stable, and loving environment. If the question of adoption has arisen, it is usually because the child’s environment is less stable, sometimes even risky. For children, adoption provides a lasting, reliable expectation for their family future. Children often have a close bond with their grandparents, so adoption may seem a natural step for both children and grandparents. This can greatly mitigate against any trauma suffered by the child by loss or separation from parents.
For both the child and grandparent, adoption can allow the child access to the grandparent’s medical plan as a dependent. This can provide more affordable health care for the child. An adopted grandchild may also be entitled to social security benefits that the child may not otherwise be entitled to. There are limitations and qualifying criteria for these benefits, and an expert in the field should be consulted. A Tulsa grandparents adoption attorney can help answer your questions in this regard.
Qualifying As An Adoptive Grandparent in Oklahoma
Just as there are benefits to adoption, there are both drawbacks and impediments to adoption. The prospective adoptive grandparent must be sure that adoption is the best move for everyone concerned.
Adopting a grandchild is a permanent alteration in the family structure. Surviving parents of the child must terminate parental rights before the grandparent may adopt. Parents may otherwise contested the adoption, reluctant relinquish their child even though their own life may be in tatters.
Suggesting that their adult child terminate parental rights might sometimes drive a wedge between the grandparents and the adult child. An Oklahoma grandparent adoption attorney can help plan the best approach in view of the potential reaction of parents who would relinquish parental rights. That is why we look at Oklahoma’s grandparent visitation rights, grandparent custody, or grandparent foster care as possible avenues to ease or try out a transition to more permanent change.
Although the relationship between adoptive grandparents and birth parents is unique in a grandparents adoption matter, Oklahoma grandparent adoption otherwise proceeds just as a regular adoption does within the state. Oklahoma statutes govern the procedure and must be followed. Among other requirements, the prospective adoptive grandparents must undergo and pass a full background check.
Once parental rights are terminated, the grandparent must qualify as the adoptive parent. The court must make the determination that this adoption is in the child’s best interests. Situations in which a court is likely to allow a grandparent to adopt include a combination of circumstances including the death or incarceration of one or both parents, addiction, or an ongoing severe mental illness.
In looking at the best interests of the child, a court will look closely at the existing relationship between the grandparents and the child. A grandparent who is actively involved in the life of their grandchild, who visits often, is more likely to be granted adoptive rights than is a grandparent who has little connection with their grandchild. Likewise, if a grandparent guardianship is in place, with the grandparent already awarded legal custody of the grandchild, the court may look more favorably upon the issue of that grandparent’s adoption of the child.
Skilled Guidance for Adoptive Grandparents
Adopting a grandchild is a big step for all involved. Much the same as it requires a proverbial village to raise a child, it often requires a skilled team to help grandparents through the adoption process and to support the new family structure. That team includes an Oklahoma grandparents adoption attorney to help with the process itself. Oklahoma adoption laws are complex, requiring that the rights of all parties involved be honored and respected.
An adoption team also includes support services that can help the new family through the initial transition and access to services that can help ease the financial burdens involved. Your adoption attorney can help you weight the financial realities of adoption compared to other alternatives such as a grandparent guardianship or foster care of grandchildren.
It is important for prospective adoptive grandparents to obtain a clear picture of the process and all the steps that need to be taken in order to ensure a smooth family transition so that the new family can grow and thrive.
Free Consultation With a Tulsa Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
As an Oklahoma grandparents’ rights law firm, my office has the training, skill and experience to guide you through the adoption process. We are eager to work with grandparents seeking to adopt, so we are ready to answer your questions, ease your concerns, lead you through the process of formalizing your new family structure. To set up a confidential, no-obligation consultation, contact my office at (918) 994-1600 or click here to send us a consultation request email.