Grandparents as Parents

  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
You may use the stars on the left to rate and leave feedback for the current article. No registration is required. Waiting for 5 votes 4.5 of 5 stars (2 votes) — Thanks for your vote

Please fill out the following optional information before submitting your rating:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over the last 25 years, the number of children being raised by someone other than a parent has increased dramatically, with the vast majority of these children being raised by their grandparents. Between 1990 and 1998, the number of families in grandparent-headed households without either parent present increased by 53 percent, and the 2000 Census placed the total number of children living in a grandparent- or other relative-headed household at 6 million.

Some of the reasons grandparents step into the parenting role include:

  • Substance Abuse
  • Death of a parent
  • Child abuse and/or neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Teenage Pregnancy
  • Unemployment
  • Incarceration
  • Divorce
  • Mental Health Problems
  • Family Violence
  • Poverty

Grandparents (and other relatives) are keeping families together and serving as a safety net to keep children out of the formal foster care system; however, many face obstacles not encountered by biological parents, like the inability to

  • place the children on their health insurance policies,
  • obtain affordable housing in which they can live with the children, and
  • enroll the children in school.

Options for Grandparents

Adoption is one of several legal options for grandparents (options that include guardianship, legal custody and others), and gives grandparents all legal parental rights; however, in order to establish a legal relationship with the children, they must bring a legal proceeding against the parents, one of whom is their child. These proceedings can be lengthy and emotionally difficult for everyone involved. The court must reach conclusions about the fitness of the parents and the "best interests" of the child, and these conclusions can strain family relationships. Keeping the child's welfare as your primary concern will help you make the best decision.


Getting Older, Developing Serious Health Problems

As a grandparent who may be considering adopting one or more grandchildren, you may have questions about your age. Many of the resources for older adopting parents may be helpful to you, but it isn't just your age now that may raise concerns - you may also worry about the children's futures as you become even older, develop serious health problems, or experience financial difficulties that might affect your ability to parent. There are solutions, and although they may be difficult choices to make, being realistic will be of greatest benefit to the child/children.

Once you become the legal parent of your grandchild/ren, you also have the legal right to place the child/children for adoption if you become unable to parent.

Designated adoption (not allowed without the assistance of an agency in all states) means that you identify the family with whom you would like to place the child and you reach an agreement. This type of adoption can be arranged as soon as you feel your ability to parent the children is becoming more than you can handle, or arranged to take place at your death or if you are incapacitated. By planning a designated adoption, the child has the opportunity to meet the family ahead of time and build a relationship with them and, done with the help of a qualified attorney and/or agency, the transition into the new adoptive family would meet legal requirements and proceed smoothly at the time of adoption.

If you choose to arrange an adoption at an earlier time, an open adoption would give the child/children a permanent family and allow ongoing contact with you, maintaing the grandparent relationship.

Visitor Comments (4)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Lorene - 1 year ago
0 0 0
My 2nd daughter is mentally abusing her 4 children. Mostly the oldest (soon to be 5yrs). This kind,loving to all,good young lady, is now saying things like," no one likes me, it's all my fault,I'm ugly,and stupid,and no one will ever want me!), mind you she is ONLY 5yrs old..The other abuse is physcial. Choaking her,beating her. Slapping and almost punching..I am in a different City. No car,in between homes. No $ till the end of month. WHAT DO I OR CAN I DO,besides call social serv. I would love the girls to be w/me permently. And my daughter mentally evaluated. ASAP.Not sure how much time is left. Help please.... #1
veronica - 3 months ago
I want to adopt my grand child - parents are in agreement to give up their parental rights... how do i do it quickly #2
Paulette - 9 months ago
Dear Lateemar, Did you ever find your grandparent to adopt? How did it go? #3
Lateemar - 2 years ago
0 0 0
Hello I am looking to adopt a grandparent , never got a chances to meet my grandparents. Just I am looking for that bond. I am a nursing assistant. Looking to build my family #4

To see local Parenting resources, please select a location (U.S. only):

Need a Home Study?
Adoption Photolisting
Brianna (FL / 15 / F)
Brianna is a shy and quiet young teenager. She enjoys listening to music, drawing and writing poetry. She really enjoys arts. Brianna is a typical teenage girl, who likes to spend... [more]
Directory of Adoption Professionals
Find a professional
for all of your adoption needs including:

Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of

Settings Help Feedback
Template Settings
Width: 1024     1280
Choose a Location:
Choose a Theme: