In the case of older children, guardianship makes sense as well as the recent discussion from a Family Law list serve shows. An attorney posed this situation:
“Potential client’s daughter passed away this month leaving 2 year old child. Mother and father never married. Father is registered sex offender. Paternity established at hospital at birth, only time father saw child. Grandma would like custody of child, but also needs financial assistance from the state if possible to care for the child. State not involved yet and grandma currently has the child.”
An experienced family law attorney responded:
"Grandma needs to have herself appointed as Guardian for her granddaughter. AVOID ADOPTION [his emphasis] in this situation. Adoption will create needless practical, legal and financial confusion. Grandma should and needs to remain as 'Grandma.' Adoption will result in Grandma becoming the child's mother. This is undesirable as well as unneeded. In her mind and in her heart, Grandma will forever be Grandma and will never be ‘mommy’ (nor should she be). And child needs to grow up knowing who's who in the family. Mother died when child was two years old, and Grandma then became her legal guardian. Makes a lot more sense rather than having Grandma becoming Mother.”
Some background on guardianship may be helpful. A judge appoints a guardian to be responsible for the well-being of a ward because the ward cannot care for himself, either because he is a child or an infirm adult. The guardian assures proper care of the ward and prudent management of his money, if any. The ward keeps his name and identity.
The guardian reports to the court on a periodic basis. If the guardian is not doing his job, the court appoints someone else to be the guardians. When the need for guardianship no longer exists, the court terminates it.
One reader noted that Robin (as in Batman and) was the only person she had ever heard of referred to as
"ward." Actually, wards appear prominently in many works of literature including Bleak House, The Wizard of Oz, My Cousin Rachel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.