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More grandparents becoming parents to their grandchildren

In Pennsylvania and in states across the United States, any discussion about the custody of children focuses on their best interests. This mostly happens in divorce cases, but increasingly grandparents are having to consider those interests because they are stepping up when their children are deemed unfit parents or are otherwise incapable of raising their grandchildren.

Addiction is one of the leading reasons why some 2.5 million grandparents in this country have set aside their retirement plans in order to prevent their grandchildren from having to enter foster homes or otherwise endure life away from family members.

One 44-year-old grandmother and her 53-year-old husband in Utah, for example, are now acting as parents to two grandchildren, ages 1 and 4-years-old. They said their 24-year-old daughter and the mother of the two children became addicted to heroin, and the children's father of the children is currently incarcerated. To keep the children from being put into foster care and being passed from one home to another, the grandparents decided to take their grandchildren under their wings.

The grandparents will do everything they can to protect and provide for their grandchildren while they patiently wait for their daughter to recover from her addiction. Currently, their daughter is allowed some visitation with her kids.

In Pennsylvania, grandparents who face the same issues can use their grandparents' rights to obtain the custody of their grandchildren if the parents prove themselves incapable of raising their kids. Before doing so, however, grandparents need to be ready for the challenges that will come with raising their own grandchildren.

For guardianship, custody and visitation issues, grandparents would be wise to discuss their concerns and determine their options. A professional could study their case and help them formulate decisions that will benefit them and the children who need their care and attention.

Source: Logan Daily, "More grandparents raise grandchildren due to addiction," Jan. 2, 2014

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