GRAND Magazine - May/June 2019 - 41

grandfamilies

Adoption or guardianship?
BY JAIA PETERSON LENT

M

agdalena never expected to be an adopshe learn there was another
tive parent. But her world turned upside
option - guardianship- which
down five years ago when, in her midMagda now thinks may have
50's, she suddenly found herself in her living room
suited their family better.
at 2:00 a.m. with a traumatized 18-month old lit"If I knew then what I know
tle girl, a police officer, and
now, I probably would have
a child protective services
made a different decision. No
Whether
adoption
or
worker. That little girl was
one told me about guardguardianship
are
right
for
the
her grand-daughter, Aubree.
ianship, or that there were
Her parents were battling
family, they need to be given options for open or closed
substance use disorders and
adoption. I didn't know I had
the
information
they
need
to
could not safely care for her.
options." Adoption required
make
the
best
decision.
The following years for Magterminating the parental rights
dalena and Aubree were a
of Aubree's mom, who was
whirlwind of family court,
battling addiction, a devastating process which negchild welfare workers, home studies, and juggling
atively impacted her efforts to recover. Guardianship
a career and health issues, all with little to no inforcould have offered Aubree a forever home with her
mation about where go for help. Fast forward four
grandmother without the pain of permanently termiyears, through Magdalena's sheer determination
nating her mother's rights.
and Aubree's resiliency the duo found their way
Magdalena and Aubree are not alone. There are
together. It had become clear that Aubree's home
more than 2.5 million grandparents responsible for
would be with her grandmother for the rest of her
young life. Now it was time to make it permanent in their grandchildren in the U.S. Faced with daunting
decisions, they often find themselves without the inthe eyes of the law.
formation needed to ensure they can do what is best
Aubree's child welfare worker quickly steered
Magdalena toward adoption. Only years later would for their family. Child welfare workers responsible
41 GRAND

MAY JUNE 2019

"

"

for sharing the information may be overwhelmed or
even unaware of the range of options and advantages or disadvantages of each option. Whether adoption or guardianship are right for the family, they
need to be given the information they need to make
the best decision. Fortunately, there are helpful resources out there for families. Click here.
Aubree is now thriving because of her grandmother's love, perseverance and dedication. Driven by the challenges she faced, Magdalena started
Grands Flourish, a nonprofit in Rhode Island which
helps other grandfamilies navigate challenging journeys like the one she and Aubree traveled together.
She is determined to make sure others don't have to
go through what they did. "There is power in having
the information you need," she explains, "together
with love, it's what helps our grandfamilies succeed."
Jaia Peterson Lent is Deputy Executive Director
of Generations United, a national organization
dedicated to improving lives. Home to the
National Center on Grandfamilies, Generations
United is a leading voice for issues affecting
families headed by grandparents or other relatives.


https://www.gu.org/app/uploads/2018/12/Grandfamilies-Adoption-Guardianship-Brief.pdf http://www.grandsflourish.org http://www.gu.org http://www.programsforelderly.com/caregiver-generations-united-national-center-on-grandfamilies.php

GRAND Magazine - May/June 2019

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