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The hidden victims of the opioid epidemic

There were over 3,500 deaths related to opioids in Ohio in 2016. Nobody would argue that the national opioid abuse epidemic has hit this state harder than most other places in America. 

Even with an inflow of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Butler County alone, it is likely that these drugs will continue to destroy more lives for several years. Unfortunately, there is also a hidden victim of this epidemic: the families of addicts. It is often up to the relatives of drug victims to take care of estates or provide homes for children.

Preparing for adoption

Adoption is one of the ways in which extended relatives, such as grandparents, may acquire the legal rights to provide adequate care for unsupported children. For example, adopting a grandchild or stepchild could give the grandparent or stepparent the legal right to access medical records and make important life decisions.

Obtaining consent

Sometimes, relatives are lucky enough to have the consent of the current legal parents to adopt the child in question. Securing consent would potentially make the adoption process easier, but it is not necessary. Even if the legal parent wants to allow adoption, a judge would still analyze the situation to make sure the new living arrangement is in the child's best interests. 

In most cases, consent is easy to secure. Even with initial resistance, most parents want the best for their children. However, if a parent is no longer available to give consent or if he or she will not comply, as is often the case with opioid abuse, there could be other options.

Some parents believe, regardless of their substance addiction, they are still the best caregivers for their children. When faced with this challenge, relatives may have to petition for the termination of parental rights. For children orphaned by the drug epidemic, the process would likely be more straightforward.

Following through

All relatives who wish to adopt must follow some of the same procedures as non-relatives. This often includes a home study performed by a licensed social worker. They may also be eligible for the same state and federal assistance once the adoption is complete. Most importantly, the child will have a safe place to grow up.

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