grandparents trying to adopt - told they have no rights???

dcrowexJanuary 5, 2002

My niece died tragically right before Christmas. While she did not live with her parents at the time of her death, she had been living with them up to about 6 months before that. Her mother and father helped her with the 3 yr old grandchild while she worked and the little boy spent a great deal of time with the grandparents. This is the only family the child knows and he is happy, secure, and well adjusted. He clings to them now more than ever since his mother died. The father has been in jail most of the time the child has been here and once he was out, only saw the child for about a week. He has never paid any child support and although his name is on the birth certificate as the father, he never signed anything. Yesterday, they went to an attorney to start proceedings to adopt the child and were informed that in Florida, basically, the grandparents have no rights and they would have to prove the child's father unfit. This may open a hornets nest and they could lose. Everyone is sick about this. Can they go to another state? Could the father come in and take this child? We are told he is in the area and has made phone calls stating that he knows he has "rights". Can this get any worse? If anyone can offer any advice, it would be appreciated.

Thank you,


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I think they could offer him a deal, get him to sign away his parental rights in exchange for no obligation to pay support. The first thing they should do is get themselves appointed the child's guardian, that would be beneficial in retaining custody, and would make an adoption easier.

Its true that the bio parent has more claim in almost any state, but with his prision record, lack of support, etc. it would seem the court would consider who can offer the child a more suitable home. They should not give up.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2002 at 10:12AM
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Thanks for your email. They already have power of attorney but they are being told that any action they take in court could result in the biological parent being given the child and it would be better to lay low. The father has not taken any action at this point and he may never take the step in trying to remove the child. But for them to have to live with this fear over their heads for years to come is causing a lot of sleepless nights. I cant believe the laws they are being informed of at this point. But it looks like the best course of action at this point is no action at all, lest they draw attention to what they plan to do.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2002 at 1:54PM
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Maybe instead of adopting, they could talk the father into giving them legal guardianship?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2002 at 8:36AM
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They definitely need to get some sort of legal custody of this child. Either a guardianship, or something that would give them the right to claim her as a dependent, carry insurance on her, enroll in school, seek/get medical care. Many reason for their needing to do this.

I would get some lawyer to prepare a guardianship paper, ask the father to sign in exchange for NO CHILD SUPPORT and he would most likely sign it immediately.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2002 at 1:17PM
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What they need to do is apply to be foster care providers. They need the power of the Department of Social Services (sometimes called Department of Human Services in some states) behind them, protecting their rights. Not only that, but as foster care parents, they would receive a bit of money to help with the child's needs. The worst thing these grandparents could possibly do is to do nothing. They have taken care of this child, they love this child. The father has not been in the picture. He has not supported his own child. Please, go for help, and get the power of the law and the "system" behind you!

Here is a link that might be useful: Welcome to Gram's Pantry

    Bookmark   January 11, 2002 at 4:39PM
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I do not feel it would open a hornets nest......something has to be done. I am a grandmother,and I have custody of my daughters too children. I have not adopted them. Maybe the route that this person should take is trying to gain custody and not adoption. Call Family Services and give them the information on the Father and how unfit he is, and that you would agree to full custody of the child,in order to give it the proper life.Maybe family services will bring this up in court for you and the Father will loose parental rights if he is unfit and the grandparent will retain custody.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2002 at 12:11PM
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Thanks to all who responded to me. I have copied and pasted the responses and suggestions and sent them to my sister in law. They are looking into a lot of options, but treading easy as they do not want to draw attention to what they are doing, lest the father come in and want to claim his "rights".
Thanks to all

    Bookmark   January 18, 2002 at 1:54PM
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This story sounds eerily familiar...

My exhusband, father of my DD, has been in and out of jail and rehab (theft and drugs... felonies... wanted in two states) since her birth.

He was released from prison in October... he says that the jail took pity on the "light offenders" like him because of the Sept 11 attacks.

Since then, he has gotten back into drug dealing, has not held a 'real' job (except for drug dealing, which makes him a great deal of money), has never paid child support for my child, even tried to kidnap her early last year during one of his "vacations" from jail.

I filed a criminal summons against him just last week, because of the child support issue; I feel that if he is out of prison, he needs to get a job. Sounds simple to me, but it really p_ssed him off. He called me, screaming, telling me that he will "see me in court", that he is going to take away my rights to my daughter... that I cannot bring in ANY of his records of drug use, his theft charges, even the DUI's that splatter his record.

In our original divorce decree it states loud and clear he has to be supervised during visits with my daughter (his mother being the supervisor... can of worms, she is), he is not allowed to drive a car with DD (lost his license anyway)... these things alone, you would think, would make him stop his proceedings against me, but I've been told by his own mother they can prove that THEIR house is better than MY house because they are married, their son lives with them... and I am a "single mother".

This is the state of Kentucky, but my hands are pretty much tied. I have an expensive battle coming up for me, to keep my daughter from a drug addicted loser who cannot keep himself from Jail. All because of the Grandmother, who feels her son is "just wanting love from people, just wanting attention".

My point to all this is; grandparents do indeed have rights. Several of them. I have been told that during the every-other-weekend visitations that my DD is at their house, they can keep her from me and refuse to give her back to me. Because, "he is the father, he has rights". I tried to prove him "unfit" last year while he was in prison for the theft and drug charges... know what they said? "he has to relinquish rights on his own, you cannot hit him while he's down like this!"... the lawyers and judges said this to me.

Makes me wonder why I work so hard, makes me wonder about laws and life in general.

Good luck with your situation, the law seems to screw everyone.

- darkeyedgirl

    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 8:50AM
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I am so sorry to hear your situation darkeyegirl. How awful this must be for you. It would appear that the criminal always has more rights than the law abiding citizen. Your situation is absolutely incredible! I am sure you are having many sleepless nights over this. I am learning more and more, and hearing more and more stories like yours. One can only hope that the case will be heard by a sympathetic judge who will clearly rule for what is best for the child. I wish you the best of luck and will say a prayer for you and your daughter. I hope you have a good attorney too.
I believe my sister in law has decided to "lay low" for the time being, for fear the natural father will somehow be able to take this child away - this on advice from her attorney.
good luck to you

    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 9:58AM
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Deb -- laying low is the right thing to do, I agree.

You are right, the criminal always has more rights than us law-abiding citizens.

Very sad, especially when a child's future and a human life is at stake.

- darkeyedgirl

    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 1:23PM
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I live in Ontario, Canada, and my DH and I are in the process of obtaining legal custody of our 10 month old grandson. It is a long and exasperating process, expensive too, but we must save this child. Our son is o.k., with this as he is young and knows he cannot provide for his baby. The mom can only be described as incredibly mentally ill, and has disappeared from the baby's life. In our case, Children's and Family Services dealt with the mom for 6 months and came to same conclusion that we did, so we have their support, our son's agreement, and a super lawyer to see us through. Although we feel that in many ways our beautiful little granson's situation is sad, we also are determined that he will have a chance for a good life with our family. Good luck to you. The continued involvement of the authorities should eventually help you. I think in our case the situation was so incredibly obvious that we have an easier time than many of you. An obviously ill teen aged girl, agreement of our son that the little guy's welfare comes first etc. means we have essentially no opposition to our plans. And we still find the whole thing extremely stressful and costly. I can just imagine how difficult your situation are. God Bless you all.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2002 at 9:54AM
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thank you for your input. as of this writing, they still are unable to adopt this child and are advised to keep this out of court. they will have to put the child in school next year and there are some concerns on enrollment and that sort of thing but they have spent a small fortune on attorneys and consulted all the proper channels. the message is the same, they risk losing the child if they take it to court because the state favors the natural parents. i think this is really sad. but they go from day to day just hoping nothing happens.
thanks for all the input.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2002 at 1:19PM
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