As a grandparent, you may have concerns about your grandchild’s parents’ abilities. They may be away for long stretches at a time and are unable to nurture and provide for your grandchild. Or, they may have conduct issues that make them unfit parents. In these cases, you may wonder whether you should adopt your grandchild. Before moving forward, you must understand if doing so makes sense in your situation, as well as what legal rights you will have.
Understanding your legal rights
To adopt your grandchild, their biological parents must have their rights terminated first. This termination may happen if they are deceased. Or, it may be voluntary if your grandchild’s parents show no desire to care for them. Yet, a court can also enforce it. For this to occur, you must provide evidence that your grandchild’s parents are unfit. A court can also issue a default judgment if the biological parents fail to respond to your petition to terminate their rights.
After a court terminates the biological parents’ rights, you can file your petition to adopt your grandchild. The state may require you to undergo a home study as part of the process. This study makes sure you can provide a safe, stable environment for your grandchild. Once your petition receives approval, you will have the same legal rights as any biological parent.
Moving ahead with adoption
If you decide to adopt your grandchild, you must make sure your spouse – if you have one – is on board. In Tennessee, if one grandparent adopts their grandchild, the other must, too. You will also want to consider whether adoption is viable in your circumstances. If you or your spouse are aging or have health issues, you will want to weigh how these factors could affect your parenting abilities. So long as you can work through these concerns, though, you could provide your grandchild the safe, loving home they need.
Because grandparent adoptions are complex, you will not want to go through yours alone. An attorney with family law experience can help you find a way to best protect your grandchild.