For many reasons, an increasing number of American children are living with their grandparents. Indiana has certainly seen this growing shift in households, as well as the obstacles often presented when making such major family changes. For grandparents and children alike going through this life chapter, there are resources to look toward that can help ease the stress of the transition.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway points out that grandparent adoption is generally the first choice for children in foster care. While it may seem the easiest option, many childcare workers observe the struggle kinship families can face that do not affect families who are unrelated. Sometimes, a child is simply not safe in the care of a biological parent; other situations involve “fictive kin,” or family friends that consider themselves as close as family. Whatever the situation, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a variety of resources for grand families at any stage of the process.
Indiana residents grappling with the challenges of grandparent adoption are not alone. Along with resources provided by the HHS, the AARP dedicates an article to the legal issues that can arise when raising grandchildren — even after the adoption process is over. Whether a grandparent has guardianship or fully adopts a child, they often experience financial complications. The AARP notes that most public benefits, however, do not require residents to have these legal family arrangements in order to receive assistance. In some instances, a judge may need to determine whether a parent is fit to care for a child, which can become a complex task on its own.
Views toward grandparent-led households may vary, yet as the AARP points out, a large number of grandparents have already become advocates to change laws surrounding support for these families. Indiana is only one of many states seeing an increase in its number of grand families, and it is apparent that a shift in family dynamics inevitably brings the need for change.