If you or a family member are taking care of a child and the child has not been living with the biological parents, whether the parents are unable or unwilling to take care of the child, you should consider filing for guardianship or adoption of the child.
The most important issue is that the caretaker of the child have the legal authority to make medical, educational, and other legal decisions in cases where the parent is absent or unable to take care of their child.
My office can assist you with the Guardianship process as well as the adoption process. Guardianship can be a temporary solution to a parent’s absence or a long term solution. Guardianship can be terminated if it is in the child’s best interest. Adoption is permanent and the birth parent’s parental rights are terminated. If you have questions, please call my office for a consultation.
My office can assist you in domestic adoptions through a private agency or through the foster care system.
- Foster care adoptions;
- Stepparent adoptions;
- Adoptions by grandparents or other relatives;
- Guardianship by relative caregivers in probate court or by a family friend; and
- Same sex marriage adoptions by one spouse or partner in a registered domestic relationship.
Stepparents should try to adopt their spouse’s children in cases where the birth parent is deceased or absent. If the natural birth parent is alive and in contact with the child, it will be hard to terminate parental rights but not impossible. There will be a contested hearing and the court will eventually make the decision.
Grandparents should pursue legal Guardianship of their grandchildren if the parent is absent for significant lengths of time or is unable to take care of their children for any reason including substance abuse, mental health issues, or job issues. A Guardianship can be terminated by the court or the parties if it is in the best interest of the child. Additionally, a Guardianship can be set up so that there is limited or liberal visitation by the parent if the parent is fit to take care of the child on short term basis.