Do biological grandparents have any rights after adoption?

Biological grandparents do not have any rights after adoption. Exceptions do apply, but typically a biological grandparent’s rights after adoption are terminated once the parents give up their parental rights. If biological grandparents petition the court for visitation rights, the court will rule in favor of what is in the best interest of the child.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Dec 17, 2020

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In the case of an adoption, the biological grandparents of a child will typically no longer have rights in terms of the child once the adoption has taken place. This is standard rote in all states, although exceptions also exist.

Biological Grandparents’ Rights After Adoption

The rule that grandparents’ rights are lost after a child is given up for adoption is generally in place in reference to adoptions that go forth in the typical manner and that are done by strangers or through an adoption agency.

In these cases, the grandparents’ rights are generally terminated with no further discussion when the parents give up their parental rights. However, exceptions can and do occur when the adoption is done by a family member, stepparent, or other connected individual.

For example, if a stepparent adopts a child after a biological parent has passed away, the grandparents of the deceased biological parent may be given visitation rights by a sympathetic court.

If the grandparents petition the court for visitation rights, the courts in or most states will make the decision on whether or not to require visitation based on the best interests of the child.

Parental rights to control visitation (which may, in this case, refer to the rights of the adoptive parents) will normally be a deciding factor, but should a particular situation seem to call for a different decision, it would be possible to petition the court for a decision based on those facts.

Just as an example, if the grandparents had custody of the child up until the adoption, or if they were acquainted with the adoptive parents, or if the adoptive parents wanted the grandparents to retain their rights of access, the court may be willing to make decisions along these lines if it could be proven that they were best for the child.

Getting Help

To have the best chances of being able to convince the court that grandparents’ rights are in the best interests of the child, any grandparents seeking rights will want to have a lawyer on their side.  

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