Helping Grandparents Adopting Grandchildren
Grandparents can often be highly important figures in the lives of their grandchildren. They can be role models and provide love, guidance, and support. In some situations, a grandparent can take on an even bigger role if they decide to legally adopt a grandchild in Oklahoma. They then become a parent as well as a grandparent.
While you always want your grandchild to have their parents, you may face a situation in which you think it is necessary to formally intervene. Adoption is always a complicated process, especially if it involves the termination of parental rights first. If you believe you want to initiate the adoption process, you should speak with an experienced grandparent adoption attorney in Oklahoma right away.
When Can a Grandparent Adopt a Grandchild?
Oklahoma has specific laws that govern the adoption process, and grandparents must follow the process as anyone else. Granting non-biological parents full parental rights is a big deal, and the process can be challenging in some circumstances. There are two main stages of adoption in our state:
- Determining whether the child is eligible to be adopted
- Determining whether the prospective parents (in this case, the grandparents) are fit to adopt the child
First, for a child to be adoptable, the parental rights of the biological parents must be terminated. In some cases, the parents may have passed away, automatically terminating their rights, and the grandparents may seek to be the people to care for the child. If the parents are living, they may realize that they are unable to care for the child due to their circumstances – such as imprisonment, substance abuse, or mental illness – and the termination of rights and the adoption may be uncontested.
However, if the parents are still alive and contest the adoption, it can be a significantly more difficult process. State law sets out reasons why a parent’s rights may be terminated, including:
- The court finds the child is deprived and that termination is in the best interests of the child
- The court finds that the parents abandoned the child or failed to support the child as ordered
- The child has been placed in foster care and the parent did not comply with the placement terms or demonstrate a plan to resume custody of the child
- A parent has been convicted of child pornography, rape, child molestation, neglect or abuse, or they caused the death of a child
- The parent failed to protect the child from abuse or harm from others
- The parent will be incarcerated for a long period of time
- The parent has a mental or cognitive condition that may result in harm to the child
These are only some reasons for possible termination, and a lawyer can advise whether a specific situation may qualify for termination.
Once termination occurs, the next step is for the court to decide that the grandparents will be fit adoptive parents and whether this adoption will be in the best interests of the child. Grandparents must usually go through the same steps as non-relatives, including fingerprints, background checks, criminal record checks, and more. In some cases, the grandparents may be subject to a home study, though the court can waive that requirement in certain situations.
Factors in Favor of a Grandparent
Many factors can weigh in favor of a grandparent for the adoption of a grandchild. For example, it often helps if the grandparent and grandchild have a long-standing and meaningful relationship already. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will favor a close relative over a non-relative for adoption, especially if the child express they would like to live with that relative. In addition, the case for the grandparent adoption may improve if any of the following have already been established:
Even if adoption is not an immediate option, a grandparent may take steps toward visitation, guardianship, or foster care to help ensure they maintain their relationship with the grandchild.
Adoption is Permanent
Adoption is the most permanent and complete parental role a grandparent may assume in a child’s life. Once your adoption is final, it is irrevocable except in cases of abuse or neglect. When the court grants you legal parental rights, the parents cannot then challenge it at a later date as long as you are fit to raise the child.
Not only does adoption ensure that a grandchild has the care and support they need, but it can also provide benefits for the grandparents, as well. Adoptive grandparents may be eligible for potential economic benefits in some cases, such as access to health plans or child support. You should discuss these opportunities with your attorney during the process.
Contact an Oklahoma Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer
If you would like to adopt a grandchild, you should consult with a grandparents rights attorney in Tulsa Ok as soon as possible. By doing so, you can get a better idea of your options for a possible grandparent adoption and learn about what the process might entail. Contact Wirth Law Office today at (918) 879-1681 to schedule your no-obligation consultation.