Although the wife had two sisters, neither of them lived close by; nor took an interest in their intellectually disabled niece. The husband also had a sister, but she didn’t have any children – and never wanted any.
Although both of the couple’s parents were eager to be guardians, the parents were of advanced age and in poor health. And as for extended relatives, well, they were extended and didn’t have any meaningful contact with their family.
It’s OK If The Guardian Is NOT Biologically Related
This scenario is more frequent than may you think. We often talk with families who do not have any biological family that can or want to serve as their special needs child’s guardian. And that’s OK.
You don’t want to designate individuals as guardians if they don’t want to be or do not have a meaningful relationship with your child.
“Our Chosen Family”
One of the things that my wife and I have learned through the years (and being in a similar situation as the couple that came to my office) is that you create what we call “Our Chosen Family.”
Our Chosen Family consists of people who WANT to be a part of our lives and enjoy spending time not only with us, but our special needs son. These are people who we’ve come to trust and love us as if they were our own biological family – and it’s these same people who we have chosen to be our children’s guardians.
Something to consider is that by taking the pressure off of your biological family, this may encourage them to remain engaged with your child. Many times biological family members want to help, but may not be in a position to assume guardianship.
Just because you do not choose someone as guardian, does not mean that they cannot be involved in your child’s life and/or be of assistance to the guardian.
There are several ways to keep non-guardians involved including informal roles like “God-parent” or more formal structures like Micro-Boards.
Things to Consider When Choosing A Guardian
When considering who to chose as your child’s guardian, here are some things to consider:
- Does the potential guardian have a meaningful relationship with your child?
- Would your child need to move to live with the guardian? How would this impact your child’s therapies or education?
- Does the potential guardian have the energy and health to take care of your child?
- Are they trustworthy and responsible?
- Would the potential guardian continue to care for your child in a way that you want?
- Most importantly, do they WANT to be a part of your family and be your child’s caregiver if something were to happen to you?
Also, something to keep in mind is that NO ONE will ever care for your child like you do. So it’s important to keep this in mind and be realistic when selecting a guardian.
We hope that our child will never need a guardian, but if they do, this person will need to quickly step in and make sure your child receives the love and care they need.
We Can Help You Decide
The story of the couple that came into my office has a happy ending.
After talking with them about their “Chosen Family,” the answer as to whom should be their daughter’s guardian was much easier and the person they selected gave them great peace of mind.
So even though the guardian they selected was not biologically related, the guardian was their “Chosen Family.”