Family is important. We all need somewhere to lay our heads at night. We all need to know that place will still be waiting for us tomorrow. We all welcome the sense of belonging and connectedness that comes with a "family".
Unfortunately, however, too many of our young children do not have the opportunity to feel that level of love and commitment, due to situations beyond their control. Drugs, crime, abandonment, incarceration, neglect, death - Any of these can create a void in the life of a young person’s “family.” Children can become victims of a system and a world that they did not create.
So, you decide to reach out to help. You decide to assist. You decide to bring a bond and a sense of connectedness to a young person. Nephew, niece, neighbor, cousin, stranger. It does not matter who it is. All that matters is that you want to help.
But what do you do? How do you create the legal stability that will provide the permanence the child needs?
It used to be that it was not uncommon for a family to take in a neighbor’s son or a relative’s daughter or even a young person that no one really knew. The family would bring the child into the home, provide food, shelter and clothing and the child would remain in the home for months or sometimes years. Somehow, it never seemed to be a problem to get basic assistance for the child. The family somehow enrolled the child in school. The family somehow signed the child up for medical benefits. Things seemed to work out somehow.
Now, let’s fast forward to today’s time. The world moves at a faster pace. Things are more high-tech. Government regulation is everywhere and expanding everyday. While there are benefits to these changing times, there is also the challenge to the “family” that wants to provide for a child that is not biologically their own.
So what do you do in today’s society if you are looking to provide a sense of “family” to a young boy or girl or set of children? Do you want to adopt the child(ren)? Is guardianship a better option for you? Would it make more sense to ask a court to grant custody of the children to you? Is there any funding available to assist you? Can you receive child support? What rights do you have and how do you protect those rights? More importantly, do you know your rights so that you can protect the children?
These are questions that we can help you try to answer. We can help you determine what is best for your “family” and what works best for you. It is important to work with someone who understands your goals for your family and who can help you achieve those goals for your family.
Johann Schiller once said, "It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons." Surely, a person can build and create a family which is not based on flesh and blood but, instead, is a family based on heart and love. Indeed, this is the strongest such family which can exist.