That was the case with Tom and Johanna, a couple in their early 60’s who had adopted their granddaughters. The girls, Sara and Melanie, were just 1 and 2 years old when a neighbor called the police because she suspected the girls were being left alone at home. After removing them from their mother’s care and identifying conditions in the home that were unsafe, the girls were placed in foster care. Their mother, an addict, begged Tom and Johanna to adopt them so they would have safety and stability, and promised to get clean and sober if only they would save the girls. And so they did.
Sadly, the girls’ mother overdosed and died soon after the adoption was finalized. And around the same time, Johanna was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Facing treatment and the possibility of a shortened life, Tom and Johanna had a serious conversation. The girls, now 3 and 4 years old, needed active, involved parents. Tom was struggling to see how he could juggle work, caring for Johanna, and the needs of two active children. That conversation led them to call us.
They called hoping that we might be able to find an adoptive couple that would let them still be involved as grandparents. We explained open adoption to them, and ensured them that we definitely thought we could find such a family. In the end, they selected a couple to adopt the girls that were thrilled to get a set of grandparents! Both of the adoptive parents had already lost their own parents, so continuing with Tom and Johanna as grandparents was something they would treasure.
After a transition plan of a few weeks, where the adults became well-acquainted and the children had time to spend with the parents, the adoption was made final. Johanna received cancer treatment but passed away within that first year. Tom, now retired, is a very active grandpa, traveling often to be sure he is at special events like dance recitals and birthday parties.
Over the years, we have gotten other calls from adoptive parents looking for readoption or rehoming of children over 10 years old, and we always recommend that they first reach out to the agency or organization that they adopted through. We believe strongly that parents should be educated and prepared for any adoption they enter into, however there are times when circumstances arise that make readoption necessary for the well-being of the child.
If you are considering readoption for a child you’ve adopted through the foster system or through kinship adoption, please ensure that you disclose this right away, including the facts about any subsidies or assistance you receive. This will change with the adoption and the new family may not be able to continue receiving these payments.