Adopting Your Own Grandchild: A Guide to Grandparent Adoption
Choosing to legally adopt and raise your grandchildren is a wonderful decision. It is an act of love and sacrifice that will have a lasting impact on everyone involved. While it may not always be an easy path, it will undoubtedly be worth it.
If you are already taking care of your grandchildren and making important decisions about their upbringing, adopting them can make things simpler. It provides you with the legal authority to enroll them in school, obtain passports for them, make medical decisions on their behalf, and handle other ordinary tasks without any unnecessary complications regarding their guardianship.
Let’s delve into what grandparent adoption entails, so you can have your pressing questions answered and feel confident about the process.
When Should You Consider Grandparent Adoption?
Grandparent adoption is not always the solution. It is a lengthy process that can potentially strain family dynamics. Therefore, it’s important to consider when it is the best choice and when it is not.
If you are already taking care of your grandchild on a permanent basis, it is recommended to legally adopt them. As their legal parent, you will have the authority to provide for their education, secure a passport for them, make medical decisions on their behalf, and handle other everyday matters without any added complications surrounding their guardianship.
In some cases, grandparent adoption becomes necessary after the death of the biological parents. In other situations, it is crucial for ensuring the well-being and stability of the children. If these circumstances apply to you, it’s important to initiate the adoption process as soon as possible in order to protect the children.
However, if the situation is temporary, adoption may not be necessary. This could be the case when the biological parents are deployed or incarcerated. You can still serve as the primary caregiver for your grandchildren and make many decisions regarding their upbringing.
How Does Grandparent Adoption Work?
First of all, rest assured that many people have been in your shoes. While your situation may feel unique, grandparent adoption has been successfully accomplished countless times. There are numerous inspiring stories of adults who were raised by their grandparents, and your family’s story will be no different.
So how does the process work? Fortunately, the state of Florida expedites relative adoptions, making it a smooth process when everything is in order. In many cases, it can be completed within just one or two months.
In the state of Florida, all parties involved must provide their consent for the adoption. This includes the grandparents, the biological parents of the children, and any children who are twelve years of age or older.
Filing a Petition
Next, a petition must be submitted to the court to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents, along with written consent from all parties involved. If the biological parents are unwilling to terminate their rights, you have the option to file a private petition to terminate their parental rights. This is typically done if you believe your grandchildren are in a dangerous situation.
The process can be more challenging without the consent of the biological parents, but it is not impossible. If you can prove that the parents have emotionally and financially abandoned the children, the court may rule to terminate their rights without their consent.
There are additional supporting documents that need to be filed, along with the children’s birth certificates and any past court orders related to their custody.
Scheduling a Court Date and Finalizing the Adoption
Once all the necessary documents have been correctly submitted, your family’s case will be assigned to a judge. This process may take a few weeks, but once completed, your adoption attorney can contact the judicial office to schedule a hearing.
During the hearing, the judge will review your case and make a decision. In many instances, a ruling is made on the same day. Often, the rights of the biological parents are terminated, and the rights of the grandparents are officially recognized.
Subsequently, your attorney will submit the appropriate paperwork to establish you as the legal parents of the children, and their birth certificates will be updated to reflect this change.
What Are the Costs Associated with Grandparent Adoption?
The fees associated with relative adoption are relatively low. You will need to pay attorney fees, but you may also qualify for an adoption tax credit. This can help reduce your income taxes by the amount you spent on adoption-related expenses.
Is a Home Study Required?
Unlike other types of adoption, a home study is not required for the adoption of a grandchild in Florida. This decision is a contributing factor that makes the relative adoption process quicker and easier compared to other types of adoptions.
The state recognizes that grandparents or relatives are the best possible caregivers when the biological parents are unable to fulfill their roles. Grandparent adoption is, in fact, one of the most common forms of adoption in Florida.
Next Steps for Your Family
Once the adoption is complete, you will have full legal parental rights for your grandchildren. Adopting your grandchild is an incredible act of selflessness, although it may not always be the first choice. It is painful and heartbreaking when the biological parents are unable to continue as parents, but the children’s safety must always come first.
With you as their legal parent, your grandchildren will have the opportunity to grow up in a stable home with the same family members they already know and love. In some cases, grandparent adoption allows for a different kind of relationship with the biological parents.
Grandparent Adoption with Garrity Traina
A crucial part of the grandparent adoption process is having a skilled adoption attorney who can provide guidance and support for your family throughout the process.
At Garrity Traina, we are a small and hands-on practice dedicated to adoption law. Our passion is to assist you and your grandchildren through the entire process, enabling your family to move forward together.
To begin the grandparent adoption process, contact us today.