When your child's life falls apart to the extent that she cannot be a good parent, you may step in to keep your grandchild in the family by becoming a legal guardian. Making the relationship permanent through adoption may become the next step, if there's little chance of the parental situation improving. If you're already the legal guardian of a grandchild in Michigan, the adoption process depends on what type of guardianship you have.
Weigh the options of continuing guardianship versus adoption. Guardianship allows grandparents to make legal decisions for grandchildren and does not require permanent termination of parental rights. In Michigan, subsidies made to guardians may make raising grandchildren financially easier, but guardianship ends at age 18. Temporary guardianship lasts only six months in Michigan, and it can be revoked by the natural parents, in some cases. Adoption makes the relationship permanent and removes the courts from any decision-making or overseeing of your family.
Hire a lawyer to represent your interests in court. An attorney specializing in family law can best navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of adoption. Since termination of parental rights is necessary for adoption, the parents must agree to give up all rights or the courts will need to prove due cause to terminate rights. Having legal guardianship does not guarantee that you will be able to adopt your grandchild.
File a petition for adoption in the court of the county where you live. You will also need a consent stating the child is free for adoption from the parents, the court or the Michigan Department of Human Services.
Meet with the social worker for an investigation of your home, called a home study. Several visits to your home are generally required before the adoption petition is approved. A six-month period of supervision may be waived or extended by the court before the adoption becomes finalized.
Complete the final paperwork to adopt your grandchild. The court will file the final order for adoption. A new birth certificate with your name as parent can be created at this time. Adoption is a final process; your grandchild becomes as much your legal child and heir as your other children once the adoption is finalized.
Your age and general health may be factors the court considers when deciding whether you're allowed to adopt your grandchild.
The rights of both parents must be permanently terminated before legal adoption can take place.
Adopting a grandchild can create complications in your relationship with the natural parents.