The Senate Judiciary Committee this week approved a measure that would exempt an adoptive grandparent from any court costs associated with adoption.
Sen. Kenneth Corn, author of the legislation, said Senate Bill 254 would remove another impediment for grandparents seeking to provide good homes for children.
“The family is the foundation of our society,” said Corn, “Children need guidance and love, and grandparents seeking to provide a stable home for children should be able to do so without punitive costs. This legislation would remove that roadblock from adoptive grandparents.”
SB 254 would also waive pre-placement home study requirements in certain adoption cases if the petitioning grandparent has no record of felony convictions, domestic violence or protective orders.
“Caring grandparents willing and able to meet the challenges of raising grandchildren are a real blessing to our communities,"”Corn said. “I'm pleased that the Judiciary Committee approved this measure.”
According to research by Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for grandparents raising grandchildren.
The research included a survey of over 40,000 grandparents in Oklahoma who are serving as the primary caregiver of their grandchildren.
“Many grandparents think taking care of their grandchildren is a temporary situation, but in many cases they become the permanent caregiver,” said Whitney Brosi, assistant professor in OSU’s Human Development and Family Science department.
Duration of care is typically four to five times longer than grandparents anticipate, according to information obtained in the most recent national census.
In OSU’ s survey, respondents often indicated they felt obligated to become caregivers as an alternative to the children entering into foster care. And although the obligation is clear, many grandparents are proud to be able to offer their grandchildren stability in the face of difficulty, according to Brosi.
In 2005, the Oklahoma Senate passed Bill 733, proposed by Daisy Lawler, allowing grandparents to participate in legal and custody proceedings. Previously, Oklahoma did not guarantee grandparents any guardianship rights, even after they had served as caregivers for long periods.
Brosi said the state increasingly is recognizing how much grandparents must do when called upon to help their families by providing care for children.