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Guardianship And Adoption: The Differences Between The Two

Guardianship And Adoption: The Differences Between The Two

Young Boy Looking Sad"Accompanied By Parent Or Guardian"

A phrase that's been heard and used countless times, it shows that a guardian is different than a parent. But why is there a need for guardians? And is a person (or persons) who legally adopts someone a guardian, or a parent?

The Reasons Guardians Must Step In

Although the rights of parents are highly regarded in society, parents can briefly or permanently lose those rights. A guardianship may be created because:

  • The child has suffered abuse at the hands of the parent.
  • The parent will be incarcerated for an extended period.
  • The parent repeatedly engages in serious drug or alcohol abuse.
  • The parent will be entering a substance abuse program for an extended period.
  • Serious illness forces the parent into a lengthy recovery away from home.
  • Overseas military service prevents adequate parenting.

These situations, while serious, don't necessarily lead to adoption. A guardian can provide a temporary haven for a child. Here's a fairly detailed explanation of guardianship compared to adoption:


  • The establishment of a guardian doesn't totally prevent some interaction with the parents. For instance, parents can request, and be granted, a reasonable amount of contact with their offspring.
  • Guardianship doesn't stop the court from exercising appropriate supervision, knowing that the child's welfare is most important.
  • If and when the parent(s) display the ability to properly raise the child, the court can return the child to the parent(s).


When an adoption occurs, the similarities to a "garden variety" biological family are virtually 100%.

  • The adoptive family is not subject to court supervision.
  • The adopted child is entitled to the same rights of inheritance as a biological child.
  • All legal rights of the birth parents come to an end permanently.

Rights And Responsibilities Of A Guardian

The sphere of guardianship takes in all the details of parenting:

  • Of course, providing food, clothing, and shelter
  • Emotional and physical protection and safety
  • Education as required by law
  • All aspects of health care (medical, dental, etc.)
  • Costs and liabilities incurred due to damage caused by adopted child.

The care and custody of a child is crucial to their life course. When you need seasoned advice and assistance in this area, contact us right away.