Choosing to legally adopt and raise your grandchildren is an amazing decision. The lives of everyone involved will change forever. It’s a loving and sacrificial choice that isn’t always easy but will always be worth it.
If you are already raising your grandchildren and making the major decisions about their upbringing, adopting them will make things easier.
Let’s look at what grandparent adoption entails so you can get your big questions answered and feel confident about the procedure.
Grandparent adoption isn’t always the answer. It’s a lengthy process that can cause tension in the family, so let’s look at some scenarios when it’s the best choice and when it isn’t.
If you are already raising your grandchild permanently, legally adopting them is recommended. As their legal parent, you’ll be able to enroll them in school, get them a passport, make medical decisions for them, and help them with other ordinary tasks without added hiccups surrounding their guardianship.
Sometimes grandparent adoption happens after the death of the biological parents. In other cases, it’s necessary to keep the children safe and in a more stable home. If these scenarios are the case, it’s important to start the adoption process as soon as possible so that the children are protected.
However, if the situation is temporary, adoption isn’t necessary. This could happen if the biological parents are deployed or incarcerated. You can still serve as your grandchildren’s caregiver and make a lot of the decisions about how to raise them.
First of all, rest assured that many people have been in your shoes. Your situation may feel unique, and it is, but grandparent adoption has been done many times. There are several amazing success stories from adults who were raised by their grandparents, and your family will be no different.
So how does it work? Luckily, the state of Florida expedites relative adoptions, so if everything is in order, it can be a smooth process. In many cases, it can be completed in just one or two months.
In the state of Florida, all parties involved have to give consent to the adoption. That includes the grandparents, biological parents of the children, and any children that are over the age of twelve.
Next, a petition must be filed in court to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents along with the written consent from all parties involved. If the biological parents are not willing to terminate their rights, you can file a private petition to terminate parental rights. This is usually done if you feel your grandchildren are in a dangerous situation.
The process is more difficult without the consent of the biological parents, but not impossible. If you can prove that they have emotionally and financially abandoned the children, the court will rule to terminate their rights without their consent.
There are other supporting documents that must be filed as well, along with the birth certificates of the children and any past court orders regarding their custody.
Once everything is correctly submitted, your family’s case will be assigned to a judge. This can take a few weeks, but once it’s done your adoption attorney can call the judicial office and schedule a hearing.
The judge will review your case at the hearing and make a decision. In many cases, a ruling is made on the day of the hearing. Oftentimes, the biological parent’s rights are terminated and the grandparent’s rights are recognized on the same day.
Next, your attorney will send the proper paperwork to show that you are now the children’s legal parents, and their birth certificates will be amended to show this change.
The fees around relative adoption are relatively low. You will have to pay attorney fees, but you can also potentially qualify for an adoption tax credit. This will reduce your income taxes by the adoption expenses that you had to pay.
Unlike other types of adoption, a home study is not required in an adoption of a grandchild in Florida. This decision is partly what makes the relative adoption process quicker and easier than other adoptions.
The state recognizes that grandparents or relatives are the best possible caregivers when the biological parents are unable to fulfill their roles. In fact, grandparent adoption is one of the most common adoption types in Florida.
Once the adoption is complete, you will have full legal parental rights for your grandchildren. Adopting a grandchild is incredibly noble, but may not always be the best choice. It’s painful and heartbreaking when the biological parents are unable to continue as the parent, but the children and their safety must be put first.
With you as their legal parent, your grandchildren will get to grow up in a stable home with the same family members that they already knew and loved. In some cases, grandparent adoption keeps the door open to a relationship with the biological parents in a different capacity.
A vital part of the grandparent adoption process is hiring a great adoption attorney who can guide you and support your family during the process.
We are a small and hands-on practice that specializes in adoption law. It is our passion to help you and your grandchildren through the whole process so that you can move forward as a family.
To get started with your grandparent adoption, contact us today.