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Can Grandparents Adopt Their Grandchild?

As a grandparent, you likely want to be very involved in the lives of your grandchildren. Generally, this means that you will see your grandchildren on a regular basis and spend time with them, such as holidays and other important events. Sometimes, a grandparent may want to adopt their grandchild. This may happen, for instance, when the parents are unfit or otherwise unable or unwilling to care for their kids. Many people wonder whether grandparents can adopt their grandchild.

What is Adoption?

Adoption occurs when a non-biological parent takes over legal parenting responsibilities for a child. Adoption is different from legal guardianship because adoption is permanent. To seek adoption, the biological parents must give up their parental rights, either voluntarily or involuntarily. An adoptive parent becomes fully responsible for the care and well-being of the child in place of the natural parents. Adoption is a legal process in which the court establishes the parents of a child in court. Adoptive parents have the same rights as biological parents.

Relative Adoption in Wisconsin

A child may be put into foster care or put up for adoption in cases where the biological parents are deemed unfit, when the parents have died, or when the parents have given up their parental rights. In some cases, a family member, such as a grandparent, may wish to adopt the child. This is often preferable to allowing a child to be cared for by a totally unrelated family. There are options for grandparents who wish to adopt a grandchild.

How Can We Request Adoption?

Grandparents may petition for adoption of a grandchild in some situations. One option is when both parents consent to the adoption. This will likely be the easiest way to seek adoption. If the parents do not consent, you may file a petition to adopt and serve the parents with notice. The parents must then respond within a period of time. If the parents are unfit, you will need to show grounds for termination of parental rights. This can occur, for instance, when a parent has an ongoing substance abuse problem and is unable to provide proper care for their child.

What are the Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights?

There are a number of grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights in Wisconsin. Some of these grounds include that the parent abandoned the child, the parent was physically or sexually abusive, the parent is not able to provide care for the child, and many other grounds. It is important to note that abandonment may not necessarily be grounds for termination if the parent can provide adequate proof of good cause. An experienced adoption attorney will help to evaluate the situation and provide you with guidance.

Adoption of a grandchild can be complicated. It is often a good idea to meet with a knowledgeable adoption lawyer to discuss the circumstances and determine your options. Every case is different, so it is best to talk to a lawyer to learn how to handle your particular situation. Contact our legal team at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (608) 784-8310 or online to schedule a consultation.

Published June 10, 2024
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