Advice - legal guardianship/child

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Advice - legal guardianship/child
3
Wed, 05-21-2003 - 11:59am
SITUATION: My husband and I are thinking of filing for legal guardianship of our 12 YO neice "L".

BACKGROUND: "Ls" parents divorced years ago and her mother took her to another state (6 hours away). Her father continues to live near my husband and I. The mother voluntarily gave up custody of her son before she moved. Since "L" moved, she has been in and out of several schools as her mother has hopped from one job to another, from living with one man to another. About 6 months ago, "L"s mother had gotten such a low-paying job and couldn't afford anything more than a one-room apartment and asked "L"s friends to take her "until she gets things settled". Well, that family took her, but, is now frustrated because the mom won't take her back. She keeps making up excuses as to why she cannot get her daughter.

CURRENT: "L" phoned me saying the family she was staying with was moving and she couldn't stay with them any longer. "L" went on to tell me her mother could not afford her and didn't have room for her. My husband and I have talked with her biological father. The biological father also refuses to take her for the same reasons.

So....here we are. Nobody wants this girl. She is about to become a teenager and has had a very poor upbringing. My husband and I have agreed if nobody wants her, we will take her in. Of course, there will be struggles.

If anyone has any advice or websites I can turn to for information on obtaining legal guardianship and what kinds of problems can happen when "adopting" a teenager, please forward it along to me. Thanks!

BTW - my mother seems to think she would be more of a problem than it is worth, and that she would be better off in foster care (I have two children ages 12 and 8 - and don't plan on having anymore either!!).

Avatar for lucy4980
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 05-21-2003 - 2:15pm
Bravo for stepping up to the plate to help this girl. She reached out to you when she didn't have anywhere to go. By taking in this child, you will mostly likely be saving her life. I cannot even imagine what it must be like for a kid to have family around, but nowhere to go. How can anyone grow into a healthy adult when no one was there for them as a child? Yes, there will be struggles with this girl, esspecially since she has had a rough childhood, but if she goes into the foster care system, she will be lost forever. The foster care system is inadaquate at best. I think about 1/2 of the kids in foster care never finish high school. Once the kids turn 18 they are out on the street - no returning to their foster care family because they are now adults, no futher support to get them on their feet, no one to help them make good decisions and get their lives on track.

I'd contact a family lawyer pronto and see what the process is. I am willing to bet that if the child is on the verge of going into the foster care system, the legal process to get guardianship of her wont be difficult.

Good luck with the process. No matter what your mom says, the life of this child is worth a lot and by offering to take her in, you are doing the right thing.

Avatar for cl_starrzz_n_moonzz
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 05-21-2003 - 8:28pm
WOW. Your situation is so much like my parents. My "little" sister I talk so much about here on the board is in all actuality my neice.Here is my story( theirs)

When my sister married at the age of 17, had my neice/sister at 18 and divorced at 19 her and her divorced hubby decided that neither could raise her financlly or emotionally. Basically they were young and didn't want a baby to tie them down in anyway. SO my parents, who are in their mid fifties said yes they would take her in, they could never see their flesh and blood put in a foster home. Yes my sister said either they take her or they were putting her up for foster care. Anyways my parents took my neice at the age of a year(always had her before that too) and they all went to the court and the judge specifically said by giving my parents guardianship that my sister and her would have no rights to her at all. Basically you have no say so. My sister could not even take my little sis to the ER if she got sick. Well the judge granted guardianship to my parents and imposed child support on my sister and her ex of ten dollars a week( my parents said they didn't need or want it) My mother even told them both as long as they went to pay the child support at the office once she got it she would cash the check and htey could just keep rolling over the same ten dollars because it was nothing and mom didn't feel she should be paid to care for her granddaughter. Anyways they neevr paid it and long story short the child support office was cracking down. In order to keep from paying a back amount of arounf 5000 a piece they decided to let my parents legally adopt my neice. So they went to court signed her away and went on. My sister has always came down once a week to see her, but no she move to another state and has not seen her since Feb. My little sis's dad came around every year on her bday and Christmas but now the visits are fewer and far between.He hasn't seen her in almost a year. My neice is getting ready to turn 11. So all her life I have been sissy never Aunt Michelle. We have always been open with her and she knows the situation. I feel that even though I resent my sister for what she did my little sis is better off where she is now my sister is so unstable that my little sis's life would have been held together by a thread. So all worked out in the end for them. As far as my DS is concerned I will never let him know that she isn't his Aunt because legally now she is if and when he gets older and asks i will tellhim but she has always been called his aunt and that s the way it is going to stay.

Now I am glad that you are willing to open up your home to your neice. It is a decsion that you will have to think about and talk over and let them know once it is done it is done. I do not have the web address for any help I wish I did. I know that there are many support groups out there to help families with these types of situations. I know my parents went through one with the local YMCA. We are here for ya and will help you through this as much as we can. Please let us know what happens. Until then you will be in my thoughts~~~~~~~~Michelle

Avatar for cl_starrzz_n_moonzz
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 05-21-2003 - 8:45pm
While I was off searching for some other boards I found these two boards that might be able to give you some links on guardianship. I know they may not be what youa re doing but I am sure they could get you going in the right direction ont he internet. I have found people on other boards will step up and help you out with an issue they have dealt with first hand. Hope these help. Please stay in touch and let us know.......Until then Michelle


http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-psgrandraise

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppadoptissue