GRANDPARENTS ADOPTION ATTORNEY
According to the Children's Defense Fund, more than 65,000 Alabama children are being raised by grandparents. That number is even higher when you take into account grandchildren being supported and cared for by grandparents although a natural parent is present in the home. Nationally, more than 2.5 million kids live with a relative with no parent present.
Grandparents care for and raise grandchildren under a variety of circumstances, including:
- The child's parent informally leaving the child in the grandparents' care
- The child's parent voluntarily granting guardianship over the child to the grandparent or grandparents
- A child welfare agency having placed the child with the grandparent or grandparents
While these types of arrangements may work well for many families in the short-term, it is often in the best interests of the child for the grandparent or grandparents to legally adopt the child. Adoption efficiently and permanently vests grandparents with all of the rights necessary to provide for the care of their grandchildren, including the right to make decisions about the children's education, religious upbringing, medical care and other important areas of their lives.
It also sends a powerful message to children whose home lives may already have been disrupted that their grandparents are committed to being there for them for the remainder of their childhoods and beyond.
MOTIVATION FOR GRANDPARENT ADOPTION
Grandparents take over the care of their grandchildren for many reasons. Some of the most common include:
- The death or disability of the child's parent
- Drug or alcohol addiction or mental health issues in the child's parent
- Abandonment by the child's parent
- Teenage parents unprepared to raise a child
In these and other circumstances, adoption can provide the child with a sense of stability and belonging that may be lacking when he or she is “staying with grandparents” or the subject of a temporary guardianship. Adoption also allows grandparents who are playing a parental role greater decision-making power, and ensures that the relationship can't be disrupted by the child's parent suddenly deciding that he or she is ready to raise the child, or a government agency determining that a different placement makes more sense or that the family should be reunified.
NOTICE TO PARENTS IN GRANDPARENT ADOPTION CASES
Under most circumstances, living parents of a child who is the subject of a Petition for Adoption must be served with a copy of the petition and afforded an opportunity to object to the adoption. There are a few exceptions to the notice requirement, including parents whose parental rights have been legally terminated, those who have been determined to be incompetent and cannot give valid consent, and those who have surrendered their rights to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed adoption agency.
While the adoption will typically proceed more quickly and more smoothly if the parents agree to the adoption and execute a consent form, grandparents and other relatives may sometimes successfully petition for adoption despite the objection of one or both parents.
The best source of information about whether your circumstances would likely allow you to successfully adopt your grandchild or other relative without the consent of his or her parents is a conversation with an experienced Alabama adoption lawyer. The attorney can explain the conditions under which an adoption can be completed without parental consent, and evaluate the facts of your case in light of applicable requirements.
SIMPLIFICATION OF GRANDPARENT ADOPTION
Like stepparent adoptions, grandparent adoption cases and adoptions by other close relatives are somewhat simpler and less time-consuming than other adoption cases.
Special rules for relative adoptions apply to:
- Great grandparents
- Brothers or sisters
- Half-brothers or half-sisters
- Great aunts or great uncles
If the adopting relative is married, the relative's spouse may also adopt under this provision.
The most significant difference is that a grandparent or other close relative adoption generally does not require the investigations typically associated with the adoption process. However, this exception applies only if the child has already been living with the grandparent or other relative for at least one year. Similarly, grandparents and other relatives who meet these criteria will usually not be required to submit the cost accounting required in most adoption cases.
WORKING WITH AN ALABAMA ADOPTION LAWYER
When you are ready to become a legal parent to your grandchild, niece or nephew, or younger sibling, adoption attorney Sara Doty can be an invaluable resource for your family. The last thing you want is for this exciting time in your family life to be marred by uncertainty, or interrupted by procedural errors or technical oversights.
When you work with an experienced attorney to petition for adoption, you are free to focus on the emotional and practical needs of your family while the lawyer manages the legal process. You can get started right now by calling 256-519-9970 to schedule your initial consultation.