If you haven’t seen ‘The Blind Side‘ yet,¬†I’m urging you to go.¬† It was honestly¬†was one of the best movies I’ve¬†seen in a long time.¬†¬† The movie chronicles the life¬†of¬†the Baltimore Raven’s Michael Oher, who rose from a¬†troubled childhood to¬†become a successful football player with the¬†support and love¬†of¬†Leigh Ann and Sean¬†Tuohy.¬† The¬†Blind Side¬†is extremely heartfelt and touching, so,¬†if you do go see it,¬†please have a box of tissues readily accessible.
During¬†one scene in the¬†movie, Leigh Ann (portrayed by Sandra Bullock) references how the Tuohy’s should consider becoming Oher’s ‘legal guardians’.¬† However, prior to seeing the movie, I read multiple articles on how the Tuohy’s were Oher’s ‘adoptive parents’.¬† That’s when I started wondering if these two terms can be used interchangeably and if I missed some explanation during the movie.¬† Upon further research, ¬†I discovered that differences do exist between legal guardianship and adoption.¬†¬†¬†The following is a list of the differences:
- In a legal guardianship, the parents of the child (or indivdual) still have parental rights and also maintain reasonable contact with the child.¬† However, in adoption, the parent’s rights have permenantly ended.¬† This is also referred to as a ‘relinquishment‘.¬† ¬† Usually, the birth parents have no contact with the child (or individual) after the adoption takes places.
- The legal guardianship may be revoked at any time (ie, if a court deems that the birth parents are able to take care of the child or that the legal guardians are no longer needed).¬† However, in an adoption, the relationship is permanent and legally binding.
- In regards to inheritance, adoptees are entitled to receive any inheritance left to them by their adoptive parents, unless there are instructions in the will to the contrary.¬† However, if part of a legal guardianship, the individual is not by default entitled to receive¬†the inheritance left to them by their legal guardians.
- In a legal guardianship,¬†courts¬†are allowed to supervise the guardians.¬† However, courts are not allowed to supervise the adoptive families.
- Finally, in regards to finances, adoptive parents are responsible for providing all financial support needed for the child to survive.¬† However, legal guardians need only provide certain amounts – such as, for food, shelter and education.¬† The birth parents are still responsible for providing the child with some financial support as well.
Both¬†legal guardianship and adoption provide¬†certain advantages¬†(and disadvantages), depending on one’s situation.¬† For more detailed information on adoption v. legal guardianship, refer to www.adopting.org.
Posted by Melanie on January 4, 2009 at 11:15 am.