Many grandparents across the United States have been tasked with being the primary caregiver for their grandchildren.
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reports that 2.7 million American grandparents are currently in charge of raising their grandkids.
If you are a grandparent raising a child, it might be the right time to consider legally adopting your kid. As our Austin, TX, grandparent rights lawyer explains, there are many benefits associated with legal adoption.
What are the Benefits of Legal Adoption for Grandparents
Some grandparents may view the legal adoption of their grandchild to be unnecessary. After all, if you already have such a close blood relationship, does it matter if you have official documents from the state of Texas? The answer is a resounding yes; it makes a difference. Legal adoption gives you access to full parental rights.
Becoming a legal guardian of a child helps to simplify many day-to-day tasks. Adoption gives you the same legal authority that a child’s parents possess.
For example, imagine your grandchild getting sick and needing to go to the doctor. With legal guardianship, you have the clear authority to make medical decisions for the child. Without guardianship, this becomes a lot more challenging. A doctor may not consent to your wishes.
The same applies to some other important decisions, like educational matters. There can be financial benefits associated with grandparent adoption as well. For instance, if you are on an insurance plan or you obtain any benefits through employment, your grandchild may not be able to be included as a beneficiary unless you have legally adopted them.
Beyond any practical or financial advantages, grandparent adoption has another huge benefit: you can help your grandchild achieve a much-needed sense of stability.
Of course, every family is different, but when grandparents raise their grandchildren, the kids experience some disruption with their biological parents and in their home environment. The loss of stability can be difficult for a young person to cope with. Legal adoption can make your grandchild feel like a full family member.
Understanding the Process of Grandparent Adoption
- PARENTAL RIGHTS MUST BE TERMINATED
Before a grandparent can adopt their grandchild, all other parental rights must be terminated. This can be done with an Affidavit of Relinquishment (Texas Family Code – FAM § 161.103). How easy (or difficult) this step will be depends entirely on the specific facts of your case. Sometimes, the child’s parents may no longer be around, or they may be willing to relinquish their rights. In other cases, grandparents may need to fight to protect their grandchild from a parent putting them in danger.
- DFPS WILL CONDUCT A HOME STUDY
Before a legal adoption can occur, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) must conduct an official home study. Even if your grandchildren live with you and have done so for several years, a home study will still be required. A home study should not stress you out. While you must prepare for it carefully, remember that it is not meant to be adversarial; DFPS is only there to confirm that you can provide a safe, healthy environment for your grandchild.
- THE CHILD MAY HAVE TO CONSENT TO THE ADOPTION
In Texas, most children who are twelve years old or older must consent to an adoption. If the child does not consent, the court may not approve the adoption. Though, Texas courts do have the authority to waive this requirement if they believe the current parent-child relationship is not working and the child is not acting in their own best interests.
- THERE WILL BE A COURT HEARING
Finally, all grandparent adoption cases require a court hearing. In some cases, this can be a relatively quick process. Parental rights may be terminated, and grandparent adoption may be finalized all in one hearing. However, that is certainly not always the case. The adoption process can be complicated. If you are a grandparent considering adopting your grandchild, it is highly recommended that you seek guidance from an experienced Texas family law attorney.
Get Help From an Experienced Texas Grandparent Adoption Lawyer Today
At the Law Office of Ben Carrasco PLLC, our Austin grandparent adoption rights lawyer has extensive experience handling adoption claims. If you are a Texas grandparent seeking to adopt your grandchild legally, we can guide you through the complex legal process.
To schedule a fully private review of your grandparent adoption case, please call us at (512) 320-912 or contact us through our website. We represent grandparents in Austin and throughout the surrounding communities in Central Texas.