Legal Guardianship Vs. Adoption

Are you unable to take care of your child, and are considering giving them to someone else? Know the difference between legal guardianship vs. adoption to make the right choice for your situation.

There has always been some confusion among people regarding legal guardianship and adoption. Many lawyers face this question frequently from parents looking to adopt someone. 

The significant difference between legal guardianship and adoption is the time frame. The adoption of a child is a more permanent affair. On the other hand, legal guardianship is more on the temporary side. 

A person can be a legal guardian of a child without their legal parents, but they cannot adopt them temporarily. We will uncover more details about adoption and legal guardianship in this article. 

Legal Guardianship Vs. Adoption

What Is Adoption?

Adoption is a more permanent process in which a person or a couple takes the legal responsibility of a child and vows to raise them as their child. Adoption transfers all the child’s parental rights to the adoptive parents from the biological parents. 

What Is Legal Guardianship?

Legal guardianship is a quicker process in which an adult takes the responsibility of looking after a child. In a case of guardianship, not all legal rights of the child are transferred to the guardian. The biological parents have the authority to terminate the guardianship whenever they deem it proper. 

Legal Guardianship Vs. Adoption

Adoption vs. Guardianship: The Similarities

People often confuse both these terms because both of these processes do have some similarities. The objective of legal guardianship and adoption is the same that is to provide stability to a child and safeguard their interest. 

In both cases of legal guardianship or adoption, the parents have the responsibility to provide for the child in every aspect. These parents are not biological parents to the child, yet they are there for the child physically, emotionally, financially, etc. 

A legal guardian and an adoptive parent must also make arrangements for the child’s proper education. The authorities want the child to get ample opportunities to make them stable. Both an adoptive parent and a legal guardian also have the consent to approve any medical care for the child. 

You might also like to read: What Countries Can You Adopt From?

The Differences Between Adoptions And Legal Guardianship

As both legal guardianship and adoption are different terms, it is evident that there is some difference between adoption and legal guardianship in terms of roles and responsibilities. The legal authority and consequences of adoption differ from legal guardianship. 

In many cases, the legal parent will select a legal guardian for their child so that the guardian can provide for their child. It is mainly done when the birth parents cannot look after their child, which is temporary. If the biological parents stabilize their lives and situation, they can have their children back.  Adoption, on the other hand is a permanent legal relationship with the child and cannot be reversed as easily.

In legal guardianship, it is up to the biological parents to terminate the control and have custody of their child. Legal guardianship will transfer all parental responsibilities and authority over the child until they reach the age of 18. After that, the legal parents retain the parental rights to the child. 

The biological parents can pass their inheritance to their child in a case of legal guardianship. To make that possible, the guardian must make a special mention in their will. The legal guardian cannot pass their inheritance to the child. 

Legal Guardianship Vs. Adoption

Adoption versus Guardianship: What should you opt for?

This is a subjective question, and it entirely depends on you. If you are looking for someone to look after for a temporary time frame, you should opt for legal guardianship. If you want to look after a child permanently, you should opt for adoption. 

Is Guardianship Permanent Or Adoption?

Guardianship in most cases is not permanent, whereas adoption is a more permanent affair. However, there are a few cases in which guardianships can be permanent if the biological parents never terminate the period. 

You might also like to read: How To Become An Adoption Social Worker?

Does The Child Have To Say Yes To The Adoption Or Guardianship?

Yes, the children need to agree to adopt guardianship if they are older. If the adoptive child is 14 or older, they must agree to control. For adoption, this age is lower at 12 years or older. 

Legal Guardianship Vs. Adoption

How To Adopt From Permanent Guardianship?

Yes, you can adopt or gain Legal Custody of a child from your permanent guardianship. The process is more straightforward since the child is already living with you. You will need to hire experienced adoption attorneys or agency for adoption first.

Then apply to the court, talk to the birth parents and prepare an adoption plan, which will form the basis for an adoption agreement. You will have to wait for the approval of the family court. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does adopting someone make you their parent or guardian

Adoption will make you the parent of the child. Legal guardianship will not make you the child’s parent; it is more like a temporary caretaker of the child. Adoption will also transfer all the child’s legal rights to you; it will also make all the claims of the biological parents on their child null and void. 

Is legal guardianship the same as foster care

Yes, guardianship and foster care are similar in some aspects. But both guardianship and adoption are these terms that are not the same. Becoming foster parents is an even more temporary solution for a child than guardianship. Foster care can also occur when the parents are unwell or traveling somewhere and can’t travel with their child. 

Why does a child need a legal guardian?

A child needs to have a legal guardian as when they are small, they are incapable of making decisions for themselves. The legal guardian’s authority over the child ends when the child turns 18. During this stage, a legal guardian steps up and makes decisions on behalf of the child.

How long does the adoption process take?

On average, an adoption takes about two months for completion. If there are some complex issues, the process can take more time. Provided that there are no complications in the adoption application. 

Wrap Up

Adoption and legal guardianship have been confusing people for a long time period. We hope with this article now you have a clear picture of the difference between these terms and the responsibilities and authorities that come with them. If you had any confusion regarding which option is right for you. It is up to you as an adoptive family to decide whether you want to adopt a child or be their legal guardian.