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When Visiting Your Grandkids Isn’t Enough

On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law posted in divorce on Tuesday, August 30, 2016.

World champion gymnast Simone Biles wowed the world at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As she tumbled, flew, danced and spun her way through her routines, television announcers told the heartwarming story of how her grandparents adopted her and her sister because their birth mother is hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol and wasn’t capable of caring for them. At end of her routine, Biles’ maternal grandfather and his wife were shown in the stands watching their daughter shine and cheering her on.

Biles’ story with its heartbreaking beginning and triumphant ending is undoubtedly a best case scenario. But, setting aside the Olympic backdrop, the situation is far from unusual: The adoption of a grandchild or other family member happens thousands of times each year in Kentucky. Although reasons for adoption under these circumstances vary, it’s typical that the biological parents are incapable of taking care of their children. Rather than letting kids end up in foster homes, relatives legally adopt them.

Five things grandparents should consider when adopting grandchildren:

  • You must file a petition for adoption with the clerk of the probate court in the town you live, the town of the adoption agency, or the town where the child currently resides. A child does not need to be officially placed for adotion for a relative to initiate the process.
  • You will need to obtain consent from the birth parents whenever possible – it’s required by the state if they are still living. You may also need permission from the adoption agency in charge of the child as well.
  • There will be a number of fees. There are modest ones like adoption history and father registry that you need to pay along with court fees. There will be larger fees if you use an attorney, but it is usually money well spent.
  • Home studies are a common part of any adoption and you must complete the Family Preparation Assessment Program in Kentucky. During this process a representative from the county office of Health and Family Services will visit your home to evaluate your fitness to take on the responsibility of raising a child. Take it seriously.
  • There will be a period of supervision once the child is brought home. It is like the home study but now with the family together. The court determines for how long and whether it is a state or private agency that runs the supervision.

You may also want to talk to someone who has already gone through the process because no amount of research can replace the wisdom of someone who has been there. Look online for a list of grandparent support groups in Kentucky. As mentioned above, an attorney well-versed in adoption can help you through this challenging and sometimes unnerving process as well.

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