Being a grandparent these days is nothing like the Norman Rockwell portraits many of us recall. Grandparents do more than play games, babysit and bake cookies. Modern grandparents now have taken on the role of child rearing and support when their own children cannot provide. However, when parents become subject to abuse and neglect petitions, grandparents also risk losing their beloved grandchildren. Caught between being supportive of child and struggle to keep their family intact, grandparents may wonder what are their rights when it comes to adoption?
What is Adoption- Really?
Many people may think they know what adoption is. From a legal perspective, parents are stripped of or surrender their parental rights. In the case of adoption, the parent has not future claim of any rights to their child.
For grandparents, an adoption severs their legal ties with their grandchild. IN cases of an open adoption, the adoptive parents may allow birth grandparents to maintain a relationship. In closed adoptions, the emotion link to a birth grandchild is lost. Inheritance rights are lost.
Most states don’t recognize grandparents’ rights as to their grandchildren. The presumption is that a grandparents’ rights flow through their child. If a parent has lost rights, then the grandparent has lost rights.
In the case of adoption, social services agencies consider grandparents’ roles in a child’s life, whether a grandparent is a placement option, and whether a grandparent is able to maintain a safe and healthy environment for their grandchild. If the grandparent is a placement option, adoptions can sometimes be avoided. However, in cases where residual parental rights are terminated, a grandparent does not have any continuing right to access or a relationship with their grandchild.
There are some misconceptions about grandparent’s rights when birth parents are minors. Generally, each state has its own regulations regarding custody and who can petition, but state adoption laws conform to federal statute.
Minor parents can have their rights terminated on the same basis as adult parents. Grandparents, in these situations, are not typically given more rights than grandparents in other cases. What becomes more problematic is the situation where the birth grandparent has failed to provide adequate care, shelter, supervision or food for the minor parent and their grandchild. However, in some of these cases, birth grandparents can be granted custody outside of an adoption proceeding or be allowed to adopt their grandchildren.
Every child deserves to be raised in a loving family, but situations arise that make that impossible for some. When parents cannot meet their obligations, grandparents are often the next best choice; however, in the case of adoption, grandparents’ rights are limited by those of their own children. Adoptions don’t always have to be the end of the road for those grandparents who want to maintain a lasting relationship with their grandchildren.