Recent numbers indicate that about eight million children across the U.S. currently reside in the homes of grandparents or other relatives. Sometimes the children must live elsewhere due to the death of their parents. In other cases, they cannot remain in their homes because of serious family issues. Each Minneapolis family law attorney at our firm believes that a welcoming relative provides an opportunity that can be better for the children than living with strangers.
Minnesota law provides two primary options for formalizing the relationship between children and non-parental relatives. Relatives who are considering taking in children for any length of time need to understand the differences between these options before taking action.
The Two “Kinship Adoption” Options
Even though only one option actually involves adoption, the term, kinship adoption is often used to describe the overall process of taking children into the homes of their relatives. In its Paths to Permanency brochure, the Minnesota Department of Human Services explains the two actual options as follows:
- Adoption: As with any adoption, formally adopting related children involves establishing a permanent, lifetime relationship. Any surviving birth parents lose their rights to make decisions for the children, but they are also not required to pay any form of child support.
- Transfer of Permanent Legal and Physical Custody (TPLPC): This option provides relative custodians with primary rights to make decisions for the children who now live in their homes and cannot be returned to the parents without court approval. However, it also provides a continuing legal relationship between children and their birth parents within the confines of their guardians’ decisions. Birth parents may be required to pay child support, at least until the child reaches age 18 — which is also when the TPLPC relationship ends.
Relatives need to carefully consider the emotional issues associated with either of these options, but they also need to take a practical look at the choice that makes the most sense for themselves, their own families and the children who need a new family situation.
Choosing Between Adoption and TPLPC
At first glance, it might appear that children benefit the most with a full adoption into the family of relatives. Certainly, if the children no longer have parents or other relatives with closer relationships, it may make the most sense to bring them fully into the family for life. Still, when the parents are still living, both children and parents can benefit by retaining their relationship.
Regardless of the reason for removing the children, the parents may be working to change their circumstances so they can get their children returned to them. At the very least, they may be able to provide monetary support that can be essential, particularly for relatives who have limited financial means.
The reasons why family members step in to care for their relatives are unique and the right solution requires an analysis that includes emotional, practical and legal considerations. Our Minneapolis adoption attorneys understand how to help fit the pieces together to help families make informed decisions on this important matter. To find out how we can help, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.