In many ways, logic dictates that grandparents would have some rights when it comes to the grandchildren, but actually, they have very few. Grandparents with right in the USA are very limited. In most situations, parents are in total control when it comes to making decisions about their children.
THE PARENT/GRANDPARENT RELATIONSHIP
As a rule, the parents decide what’s best for their children and the grandparents get to spend time with them and enjoy all the good things about being a grandparent. In other words, the parents make the decisions and the grandparents enjoy having the fun and then go home.
This is as it should be.
Grandparents paid their dues as parents and put in the years of devotion and dedication to raise their own children, and it stands to reason that they are on the sidelines as far as decision-making when it comes to grandchildren.
Most grandparents wouldn’t have it any other way.
SOME GRANDPARENTS ARE MORE INVOLVED
There are situations when grandparents agree to baby-sit in order to help the parents out. Possibly the parents can’t afford daycare or babysitters at the moment and need help to make ends meet.
For some seniors, it’s a great opportunity to spend plenty of quality time with the grandkids. What this often means, however, is that the grandparents become very involved with how the grandkids are brought up on a day-to-day basis. This is especially true if the grandparents are spending four or five days a week with them.
In some cases, the babysitting services become built-in and reaches the point where it can be a bit overwhelming for seniors to keep up with their grandchildren.
Some grandparents might feel they deserve to be involved with more of the decision-making when it comes to their grandchildren. However, that’s not necessarily the case. Legally, it’s the parents who call the shots.
WHAT IF PARENTS MAKE BAD DECISIONS.
So what happens if parents make bad decisions involving their kids? What if there is abuse or neglect? What normally happens is the kids are removed from the home and then returned at a later date.
Despite making bad decisions, the parents pretty much always keep control of their children’s destiny. Even in cases of substance abuse, children are often left in the care of their parents. The reasoning is that it’s either too difficult for the courts to quantify and prove the level of abuse, or in some cases, the parent’s substance abuse is not considered to be dangerous to the children.
It’s very disturbing that so many children are brought up in an environment where one or both of the parents are alcoholics. Alcoholism in itself does not seem to be reason enough to remove children from the family home.
CHILDREN AT RISK
In the event children are deemed to be at risk in the family home, grandparents have the right to be notified. There is a 2008 law that states that adult relatives of children at risk be given the right to take part in deciding what is going to happen to the children.
Should the grandparents decide they want to take over care of the children, they are basically treated the same as any other foster parents. It is commonly called kinship care when the grandparents have physical custody of the children. However, the state retains legal custody and will make the main decisions when it comes to the welfare of the children.
Even if grandparents express an interest in seeking custody, they do not warrant any special consideration. In other words, they can petition for custody but it will be treated with the same procedures granted for any third-party petition.
EVERY STATE IS DIFFERENT
When it comes to the well-being of children, every state is different and has its own set of procedures.
In some states, grandparents are given more of a free hand when it comes to looking after the children. The state doesn’t offer a lot of assistance or oversight.
In other states, grandparents might have to undergo special training. They have to receive the necessary certification in order to become official foster parents.
Much like any foster parents, grandparents are paid a certain amount by the state for caregiving. They can also expect Child Protective Services to visit and make evaluations from time to time.
GRANDPARENTS ARE OFTEN THE BEST FOSTER PARENTS
It stands to reason that grandparents should be given more consideration when it comes to choosing a foster home for children.
There have been many studies that have shown that children are more likely to thrive if their foster parents are actually relatives. This makes perfect sense, especially if a grandparent was heavily involved with the care of the children while they were still with their parents.
If a grandparent is babysitting the children three or four days a week for an extended period, it stands to reason that they would form a very strong bond. This, in turn, would make the transition into a more permanent living situation with their grandparents more seamless for the children involved.
You would think it would be the best alternative for children in this very emotionally-charged time in their lives.
ADOPTING THE GRANDCHILDREN
Should the time come when grandparents choose to adopt a grandchild they will be moving into a permanent arrangement.
If adoption is legally approved, parental rights come to an end and it’s the grandparents who will make any big decisions involving a grandchild. At the same time, foster parent payments will be discontinued.
However, the grandparents may be eligible for an adoption subsidy or tax credit. Also, depending on the state, the grandchild would most likely stay eligible for medical care from the state.
Basically, the grandparents are becoming parents all over again. That means they have the same responsibilities that any parents have. They will be responsible to provide everything the child needs in order to live in a safe and loving environment.
Many seniors are not working and careful consideration would have to be given to how expensive it would be to raise one or more children on a fixed income.
For more information about grandparent, custody visit The Grandfamilies State Law and Resource Center. It is sponsored in part by the American Bar Association.
In the event parents are no longer able to provide for their children grandparents would be the next logical choice to look after them as foster parents.
There’s no doubt it would be more seamless for children who are in an emotionally challenging situation. It would really help to already know and love your new foster parents.
Much depends on the age and the health of the grandparents as well. If they do not have good mobility and overall good health they might have difficulty keeping up with the needs of the grandchild.
That being said, there are many seniors who pay attention to fitness and proper nutrition. This usually means their health is great and they are excellent candidates to look after their grandchildren.
In the event they decide to leave the foster parent role and adopt the child outright they might have to carefully consider the ramifications. The expectations are the very same as they were when they raised their own children.
They would be responsible for all aspects of the child’s life. It’s important the grandparents are in good health, but it’s much more than that. They will need a suitable home and the financial wherewithal to provide everything the child needs.
They would have to ensure grandchildren have the proper education and will have to see they get to school and home safely.
Then there are parent/teacher interviews, extracurricular activities and a host of other considerations when it comes to raising another family.
There is no doubt it would take very special grandparents to take on this huge responsibility, especially when there seems to be a lack of grandparents with rights in the USA.
The journey from grandparent to foster parent, to adoption can be a challenging one, but the reward of providing children with a happy and loving home could make it all worth it.
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