Saturday, July 23rd 2016

Legal Guardianship vs. Adoption: What’s The Difference?

Courtsey of

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

Posted by Melanie on January 4, 2009 at 11:15 am.

One Response to “Legal Guardianship vs. Adoption: What’s The Difference?”

  1. avatar Anti LEGALLY COERCED ADOPTION says:

    Natural Parents should be acutely aware that extended durations without contact to child (6 months in Indiana) and child support arrearage can trigger unwanted/legally coerced adoption against non-custodial parent. (True Example)

    Empirically speaking, I regrettably & ignorantly withheld child support payments as leverage against not being allowed court ordered visitation. This persisted for a period in proximity of 4 years. Once the voluntary repayment started, subsequent to a lump sum payment of 6 months

    A few months later I was approach by the custodial parent requesting i allow her fiancé adopt our daughter. I respectfully and adamantly declined the offer.

    Then the child support arrearage became criminal charges combined with aggressive attempts to have my security clearance revoked, until I had to leave my job to protect myself thru the clearance investigation.
    I timely appealed the adoption. The criminal trial was mysteriously delayed until a week before the final phase of the appeal was due. I drove from 5 states away to attend trial and was found guilty of non support, held there for 28 days until I lost further appeal rights, missed filing a bankruptcy two weeks prior to foreclosure sale to protect inheritance for my daughter.

    I have no regrets for fighting for my daughter and would do it all again even knowing the outcome in advance. I would not withhold payments but I would die nine lives to not abandon my daughter. Now at the request of my 92 year grandmother I refrain from initiating contact with my daughter and patiently wait for her to come back to me.

    By the way, once my grandmother learned from me that I was incarcerated her blood pressure sky rocketed beyond 200 and she was hospitalized. Trusting her judgment and caring for health as well as retribution for her raising my two sisters and I, I honor her by praying the day my daughter reenters my life. If you are in this situation, LaShun Pace has a beautiful song that can help you thru it. It is titled ‚ÄúFOR MY GOOD‚ÄĚ

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