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The Difference Between a Guardianship and Adoption

This can be confusing for a bunch of reasons, because the fact remains – when you adopt a child, you're automatically in guardianship of that child. You retain legal and physical rights. You're in charge. So then what's the difference between a simple 'guardianship' and adoption? How does that work?

By law, a guardianship simply sets up a legal relationship between an adult and a prospective child, and that adult must not be the child's parent. The same goes for an adoption except for the fact that a guardianship doesn't actually terminate the legal relationship between the biological parent and the child in question. In essence, if you file for legal guardianship of a child, the biological parent must still be responsible for paying child support, and even visitation. Even when a biological parent dies without a will, a child of that parent can have certain inheritance rights by default.

In contract, an adoption changes everything. It's not only a legal contract, but a physical one and an absolute one. The biological parent no longer has any rights at all to the child. The parent doesn't even have to pay child support. By law, the supposed relationship between a parent and child would be completely severed, and there would be no action taken at all for such a parent to demand any kind of parenting time or visitation rights. It would be as if the parent was no longer the child's parent at all. In fact, even the birth certificates would be revised.

Bear in mind that important difference. It could change the way you look at simply caring for a child – and being that child's parent. That's a massive difference.