Grandparents in Arizona may find themselves serving in a parental role for a whole host of different reasons. Sometimes, a parent gets diagnosed with an illness or gets injured in an accident and is no longer physically capable of meeting the needs of their children because of their medical limitations. Other times, there could be an issue with drug addiction or alcohol abuse that compromises that parent’s ability to utilize proper judgment or provide a suitable home environment for their children. In some cases, parents end up in jail or they may choose not to be part of their child’s life. The longer a grandparent fulfills the role that the parent can’t or won’t, the more beneficial it may become for that grandparent to pursue adoption.
Arizona, like many other states, has a simplified process for adoption when the person taking responsibility for the children is already a member of their family. Grandparents require court approval to become the lawful parents of their grandchildren. Grandparent adoptions also require either the consent of the child’s biological parents or the court-ordered termination of the parents’ legal rights. These are some of the benefits that a family could potentially derive from a grandparent adoption.
Enhanced family stability
After years of living with a grandparent, the children in the family may not be happy about needing to move back in with a parent later. However, if the grandparent has only informally accepted a parental role, that might be exactly what happens. When a grandparent takes the step to legally adopt their grandchildren, they won’t have to worry about a parent who abandoned the children or who was unable to fulfill their role for years suddenly coming back and disrupting the lives of the entire family with little regard for the impact on the children.
Access to key support systems
There are thousands of grandparents in Arizona playing a parental role, and there are programs that can help families adjust to this arrangement. To access key forms of state aid, grandparents will typically need to formally adopt their grandchildren, as the state may not acknowledge an informal arrangement where a grandparent provides care for the children in the household. From tax credits to counseling support services, there are numerous resources available after an adoption that may not be available with an informal care arrangement.
An improved sense of family
A child who has lost a parent to death, addiction, abandonment or incarceration may have an unstable sense of family and difficulty understanding where they belong in the world. Having their grandparents legally adopt them can be a source of comfort. Adoption makes their formal relationship with others clearer and may help them to understand that they have someone they can depend on in the future regardless of what the future holds for the family.
Pursuing a grandparent adoption can be a complicated process, but it is also often beneficial for everyone in the extended family when this effort is both warranted and successful.