Due to the ever-increasing number of people becoming addicted to drugs such as heroin and prescription opiates, millions of grandparents in America are becoming the parents of their grandchildren. It was recently estimated by PBS that 2.9 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren through foster care and adoption. In Texas, grandparents are becoming licensed foster parents in order to be granted custody of their grandchildren.
Since federal child custody laws require that states try to place children with a family member, grandparents are often the first choice to provide foster care for them. Permanent custody can be been granted to grandparents in cases where the parents cannot beat their addiction or repeatedly relapse. An example of this happened in Garland, Texas, where 4 grandchildren ranging in age from 6 to 12 are being fostered by their grandparents, and permanent custody was granted to them after the parents regressed to heroin.
There can be different challenges when raising a grandchild compared to those of raising one’s own children. Children of drug addicted parents are often trauma-exposed. Both the grandparents and grandchildren can have increased stress caused by worrying about the addicted parent. The child may feel guilt that they are somehow the cause of the addiction. While services to help these children are in short supply, the Children’s Programs at the Betty Ford Center has locations in several states including Texas that offer intensive programming and then continued care for both children and their families.
In order to complete an adoption in Texas, first the parental rights of the parents must be terminated. Illegal drug use or addiction by a parent, if proved in court, can lead to this termination. Though sometimes uncontested, terminations are often contested and can lead to a jury trial. Whether or not the charges are contested, an experienced attorney can help reach a favorable outcome for the client and open the path for a legal adoption.
Source: thefix.com, “As Parents Struggle with Addiction, Grandparents Step In“, Britni de la Cretaz, Jan. 15, 2017