SHOULD I PURSUE CUSTODY OR ADOPTION?

My daughter just gave birth. The baby’s father refused to sign the birth certificate. My daughter is unfit to take care of the child and so I took temporary guardianship from the hospital signed and notarized to take the baby home. What is the process of either custody or adoption?

ANSWER

Whether you should pursue custody or adoption depends on your ultimate goal — do you want your daughter to eventually care for her child or do you intend to raise this child as your own? You can file a Petition for Adoption in the Circuit Court in the county your daughter resides in. If both your daughter and the biological father consent, they will need to sign an affidavit indicating their consent. This is considered an uncontested adoption. You and your grandchild (the “adoptee”) will need to appear for a brief hearing before the Court. If your daughter or the biological father do not consent to the adoption, you would have to proceed with a contested adoption. However, the Court does not grant contested adoptions frequently, because adoption involves terminating a biological parent’s parental rights.
If you wish to care for your grandchild on a temporary basis, until your daughter and/or the biological father are able to care for their child — then you should pursue custody. You can file a Petition for Custody in the Circuit Court in the county where your daughter resides. Your daughter and the biological father will need to be served. If you are not able to locate one or both of them, you should seek the assistance of an attorney to help you file a Motion for Alternate Service in order to have one or both of the parents served by posting at the Courthouse or by publication in a newspaper. If both parents consent to you having custody, this could be a relatively smooth process. If one or both of the parents do not consent, you will have to go through the entire Court process. In recent years, it has been easier for third parties to obtain custody of children if they are acting as the minor child’s “de facto” parent and providing for the minor child’s care.