Many grandparents are stepping in to raise their grandchildren when the children's own parents are not able or willing to do so. Grandparents take on this obligation when the grandchildren's own parents abandon them or when the children can no longer live with them because of the parent's mental disorder, substance abuse, or incarceration. These children who suffer abuse from their own parents may feel insecure afraid! They may be angry at their situation and even embarrassed by it. It will take time for these children to feel safe and secure. You can encourage these good feelings and ease their adjustment to their new home in a number of ways:
I. Legal Status
1. Adoption: Adoption cuts off all of the birth parents' rights and responsibilities. The grandparent becomes the parent in the eyes of the law. 2. Legal custody: When you get a custody order from the court, you are responsible for the child's day-to-day care. Custody is granted based on the best interests of the child. A custody order is never permanent. The parents continue to have legal rights, such as the right to visit the child, unless a judge denies or limits the visits. You may still need a parent's permission to make medical decisions or to enroll the child in school. Parents could regain custody again someday. 3. Guardianship: Being a legal guardian allows you to make important decisions for the child. You can enroll the child in school and give permission for a healthcare provider to treat the child. A birth parent can go to court and ask for the guardianship to be ended. If this happens, the care and custody of the child is returned to the parent. II. Finances
1. The costs of raising grandchildren will affect your finances. It may change plans you have made for yourself such as retirement or vacations. 2. Government assistance may help cover food, housing, clothing, and mental healthcare. For example, your...