If you care for a family member, you may hit a crossroads where you have to decide whether to become that child’s guardian or adoptive parent. If you care for a child long-term or if the parents have limited contact with the child, you may need legal protections to make decisions for him or her.
Guardianship and adoption are two ways you can take legal control.
Of all adopted children in the U.S., about one-quarter are biological family to their adoptive parents. These family members tend to use adoption because of its legal protections. In adoption, birth parents must legally transfer their rights to the adoptive family. Adoption provides strong legal protections and can sever the legal ties with the biological parents.
On the other hand, guardianship grants legal authority to care for a child but does not sever the legal ties between the child and the biological parents. Establishing a guardianship takes less time and effort, but it has less legal security.
Long-term commitment and stability
Adoption is permanent. If you want permanent custody of your family member, you may choose adoption instead of guardianship. However, if you want the door to remain open for the biological parents to return to the child’s life, then guardianship makes more sense. Guardians are more flexible than adoptive parents. As a guardian, you can change the arrangement if circumstances change.
When it comes to adopting or becoming the guardian of a child in your family, you do not have to worry about severing ties with the entire biological family. Your choice to become a guardian or adoptive parent depends on your circumstances and how much legal protection your child requires.