Grandmothers and grandfathers play an important part in a child’s life. However, some grandparents go above and beyond the typical grandparent role. They take on the responsibilities usually expected of a child’s mother and father. Sometimes, grandparents step in because the child’s parents have passed away. Other times, grandparents are forced to assume parenting responsibilities because the child’s parents suffer from addiction or mental illness. Whatever the reason, grandparents in this situation may be interested in formally adopting their grandchild. Grandparent adoption is the legal process through which a grandparent becomes a child’s legal guardian. Depending on the circumstances, adopting a grandchild can be a major legal undertaking.
Illinois Law Regarding Grandparent Adoptions
Children can only have two legal guardians – typically their parents. If a grandparent wishes to adopt his or her grandchild, the child’s parent may need to relinquish his or her parental rights. If both of the child’s parents realize that grandparent adoption is best for their child, they may be willing to voluntarily give up their parental rights. This allows the grandparent(s) to step in and assume the role of the parent(s).
However, many parents are not willing to surrender their parental rights. In this case, the grandparents may take legal action through the court to have the parents’ parental rights terminated. Illinois courts seek to preserve the parent-child relationship whenever possible, so there is a very high standard of proof needed to have a parent’s rights terminated. The court may terminate a parent’s parental rights if the parent is considered “unfit.” A parent may be considered unfit if he or she:
- Physically abused the child
- Chronically neglected the child
- Abandoned the child
- Cannot care for the child due to intellectual impairment or mental illness
- Cannot care for the child due to substance abuse problems
- Chronically failed to provide the child with basic needs despite having the means to do so
- Has consistently shown a lack of interest in the child
- Shows pervasive or extreme cruelty to the child
- Shows little concern for the child’s safety
- Failed to protect the child from danger
- Was convicted of certain violent crimes
Contact a DuPage County Adoption Lawyer
If you are interested in adopting your grandchild, contact the Naperville family law attorneys at Goostree Law Group for help. We can advise you of your options and help you determine the next steps. Throughout the adoption process, we will ensure that your rights – and the rights of your grandchildren – are fully protected. Call 630-364-4046 for a free consultation to learn more.