It is not known how many grandparents have adopted their biological grandchildren, but laws in many states ease the way for RELATIVE ADOPTIONS. Most states waive the requirements for a HOME STUDY and also waive age criteria and other requirements used for nonrelative adoptions.
Grandparents may adopt for a variety of reasons. The birthmother may be a teenager and unready or unwilling to parent her child, while the grandparent is young enough to handle the task. Some grandparents who adopt their grandchildren are probably about the same age as adoptive parents who adopt nonrelatives-in their late thirties or early forties.
The birthmother may have abandoned a child or children to the custody of grandparents, and such situations are increasingly more common with the rise of cocaine and crack cocaine abuse. (See DRUG ABUSE.)
If the birthmother remains in the home with the grandparents and adopted child, the situation may be different or awkward. In the past, some grandparents who raised an adopted child as their own biological child did not tell the child he or she was adopted, and the child grew up thinking his birthmother was his sister. The actor Jack Nicholson has talked about such a situation in his own case.
Experts today urge candor with adopted persons and believe it is better for an adopted man or woman to know as much as possible about his or her heritage (especially that he or she was adopted) rather than learning the information from a third party outside the family.
Because single parenthood is far more socially acceptable now than it was 20 or 30 years ago, many a young woman who becomes pregnant chooses to raise the child herself or place the child for adoption rather than pretend the child is actually her parents' child.
The difficulties of a RELATIVE ADOPTION exist when a grandparent adopts a child. Most of the family is aware of the adoption and may approve or disapprove very actively.
In addition, the family may consider the child to be "really" the birthmother's child rather than the child of the adoptive parents, although this situation is less likely than when the child is adopted by an aunt or a cousin, probably because of the closeness of the relationship.
Find more information on grandparent adoptions
©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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