Tough Issues for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Custody and More.
If you are currently caring full-time for your grandchild, you’ve joined the growing numbers of grandparents doing the same thing. You probably had dreams of completing your career years and were looking to an idyllic retirement with lots of travel and fun. But…
Take heart if you’ve found yourself in the position of raising children all over again. The situation almost always comes with a large measure of heartbreak. Either your children have met with illness or accidents, have become addicted to drugs or alcohol or have found themselves incarcerated for any number of missteps. Whatever the circumstances, there are young children who need loving care and guidance. You’re the logical caregiver.
But once you’ve made the commitment to step in and care for your grandchildren there is a maze of issues to wade through. Do you gain legal custody or do you try to adopt? Who will help with the financial strain of raising children all over again? Where do you go to get legal advice on your rights and how do you know what paperwork to fill out?
Since each state and country have their own laws and systems, it is wise to find a support group near your home. You may find that even though the parents have been abusive or neglectful, you still can’t gain legal custody. You may have to fight court battles that cost a great deal of money. You may not understand how a power of attorney works or may not be able to get one.
Here are some things you need to do:
Find support locally for grandparents in your situation. Here are some places to begin:
www.lagrg.org ( If you live in the US check for a state org like this)
www.raisingyourgrandchildren.com (for personal stories and support)
www.helpguide.org (search raising grandchildren for articles that focus on grandparents rights and support services)
Know your rights. Find a legal aid service in your area. This will cover such issues as getting copies of birth certificates, having power of attorney, having the right to give medical consent and more.
Have no illusions. Children who have been living in abusive or neglectful homes or who have been born to parents with addictions have many strikes against them. They may have learning disabilities, physical problems, emotional attachment issues and so much more. However, a loving stable environment is the way to begin on the road to their healing.
Know that it’s expensive. There may be some financial programs for grandparents in your position. You’ll need to do your research to find them. But raising children is even more expensive today than when you did it the first time. And legal fees and court costs may be quite expensive.
Why do it?
It all boils down to responsibility and love. Little children don’t ask to be born into the families they have. They are innocent and vulnerable and need the protection of family and local authorities.
Take heart. There are thousands of other grandparents embarking on this unexpected journey. Link arms with some of them, take each challenge head on and you’ll find a way to give that loving home to the grandchildren who deserve it.
Here is a list of great books written by grandparents doing the job you are now undertaking. Read several of them and gain insight and courage for the road ahead.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Supergrands and Their Superkids by Barbara Setzer
To Grandma’s House We…Stay by Sally Houtman
I Love You from the Edges: Lessons on Raising Grandchildren by Karen Best Wright
Tickleberry Hill: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren by Hilda Osborne
Empower Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Training Manual for Group Leaders by Carole B. Cox, Ph.D.
Courageous Love: Instructions for Creating Healing Circles for Children of Trauma by Laura Montane Bailey
You may find all of the above books at www.Amazon.com