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Grandparent's Rights Through Adoption

A grandparent now includes those who become grandparents through adoption in addition to biological grandparents.


Historically, grandparents have not been viewed by courts as having rights independent of those of their children with respect to the adoption process. The courts have traditionally only recognized the natural parents as the only parties having a legally cognizable interest in the adoption of their children. However, this area of the law is ever-evolving. Grandparents' rights have been expanding rapidly in the past several years.

As I have pointed out in several past blogs, the rights of grandparents have increased, both through legislation and court precedence. For instance:

  • Grandparents have rights under the Children & Minors Act. 23 Pa.C.S.A. Sections 5311-5314. That permits a grandparent to obtain visitation and/or partial custody of a grandchild. (See blog article on this topic).
  • An adoption decree automatically terminates any visitation and/or partial custody of a grandchild, unless that child has been adopted by a step-parent. In which case, it does not terminate grandparents' rights. (See blog article on this topic).
  • Grandparents have the right to intervene in child dependency matters. (See both of my prior blog articles- ONE and TWO).

It also includes a grandparent that becomes one only through adoption.

In Little-Stepp v. Cancilla, 896 A.2d 647 (Pa.Super. 2006), the Court determined that a legal grandparent of an adopted child is accorded the same rights toward their child's adopted children as a grandparent by blood. Courts have even expanded this range to include aunts and uncles. See In re Adoption of J.E.F., 902 A.2d 402 (Pa.Super. 2006).

If you are a grandparent, step-grandparent, a grandparent through an adoption, an uncle or an aunt, you may have the requisite legal standing to seek partial custody, full custody, or visitation of the minor child(ren). You need experienced counsel that can properly deal with and plead your case to the court to ensure your rights and the child(ren) are protected. You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at (717) 268-4287.