Karen Best Wright, B.S., M.A., Health Educator
Why would grandparents adopt their grandchildren? Grandparents who are already raising their grandchildren may or may not want to adopt them. There are pros and cons to adopting grandchildren. It works out really well in some situations but not so well in other situations.
When a grandparent might want to adopt:
- To create long-term stability and prevent children from possibly being shuffled back and forth between caregivers - both parents parental rights must be terminated first.
- To decide who they want to care for their grandchildren should something happen to them.
- If they are retired and on social security, there are added financial benefits for adopted children but not children a grandparent may merely have in custody.
- When children are placed with grandparents as foster children through child services and then adopted, there are often added benefits to the children, adoption costs paid, continued financial assistance for the children, and even college tuition assistance.
When a grandparent might not want to adopt:
- When parents are still involved with the children and it is not possible or desirable to terminate parental rights.
- When grandparents received custody/guardianship of children outside of the formal child welfare system, it is often harder to terminate parental rights and the cost of the adoption is placed on the grandparents.
- If a grandparent adopts a grandchild outside of the formal child welfare system, any financial assistance a grandparent might be receiving for the child in the form of a child-only TANF grant would be discontinued.
Whether or not it is the best option for grandparents to adopt their grandchildren totally depends on their personal and family situation. This is not a topic to be taken lightly. If a grandparent is raising a grandchild placed with them through child services and they want to adopt, talking to the case worker is the first step. If a grandparent wants to adopt a grandchild that they have custody/guardianship of, they would do well to contact an attorney who specializes in family adoptions.
Adopting grandchildren is not the right decision for all families, but it is a good decision for many.
Karen Wright, a custodial grandmother