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Choosing the Guardian

June 15th, 2011 by Jessica Kim Founder and CEO, BabbaCo

Earlier this season on “Modern Family,” Mitchell and Cam decided to “interview” their family members to determine which would be the best candidates to become their adopted daughter Lily’s guardians should something happen to her dads. I think it was a brilliant move. It totally makes sense, right? This is the most important delegation you will ever make. If something (say your prayers) ever happens to you as a parent, the legal guardian you choose will be responsible for raising your children. I can’t think of a more important role than that!

It’s a very overwhelming conversation though that actually makes you face mortality and the possibility of your kids being without their parents. It’s so tough, in fact, that most parents avoid the conversation and don’t formally secure a legal will. You would think it’s a straightforward decision, but there are a lot of factors that come into play.

How did you make that decision? Did you keep it within your blood family? Did you consider the person’s character, relationship with your children, whether they have kids of their own, or age?

I boiled it down to three main factors. 1) True love for my children vs. blood only. We have really close friends who are like family who have been there for my kids their entire lives and know them inside and out. Is that thicker than blood? 2) Can they handle it? Would I want to add this to their plate? My sister has two kids with the thought of having a third. Would they be able to add two or three more kids and stay sane as two full-time working parents? 3) Will they raise them the way I would? What is their parenting style or lifestyle?

Either way, this can be a heavy decision. However, the worst thing to do is to avoid it and not write a will at all. I have to admit that I’m in that awful boat right now. Supposedly, if it’s not legal, the court doesn’t recognize it. Man, now I’m freaking out. What did you do?

Last comment: Jun 22nd 2011 7 Comments
  • Jessica says:

    We humans are bad at planning for the future. Not all of us, but most. All you need to do is think about your children being on Earth without you. Among the people you know, who would you want raising your children? There’s nothing easy about it, but it has to be done.

  • Jessica Kim says:

    These are such great points. Hearing everyone’s thoughts actually made me rethink a few things. This is why I love hearing from other moms. Thanks for sharing your stories!

  • Elaine says:

    “We have really close friends who are like family who have been there for my kids their entire lives and know them inside and out. Is that thicker than blood?”

    Ummmm… you realize that this is about an adopted daughter, right? Obviously, someone who chooses adoption understands that love is thicker than blood.

    Just so you know, your family friends would be considered “fictive kin” and in most circumstances they’d have some legal standing to take custody of the children unless a blood relative contested it even without a will naming them as your chosen care-givers. A will is preferable, however.

    *not legal advice, just sharing what I know :)

  • Lee says:

    I never really thought about it, until my husband was sent over to Iraq. And he is required to make a living will. So, that got us thinking. It is not only about values and how much that person may love your child. That person is also going to be responible, for the money that child may receive, after your passing. So, that took his mother and sister out altogether. We ended up picking my mother & if something happens to her, then his best friend Ken and his wife. They have a son in the same age bracket as our son. And the children are more like siblings then friends. We raise our children the same. They handle money the same way we do. Not, only that, we r third on their list behind, his mother and sister. If something happens to, him or his wife. So, I feel that speaks volumes to how much we respect and love each other.

  • Shonda says:

    I know that my parents named our Uncle Kevin and Aunt Denise as those who would take us if they both passed away…Aunt Denise is my dad’s younger sister…one of our favorite relatives…

    Praise God that we still have both our parents–and that we are all older (22,24,28, and 30)–and now my older sister is having a baby in December…yay…

  • Nancy Horweetz says:

    I was in the same boat until about a year ago! It is one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make, but it came down to one thing: who would be the best caregiver for my children if something were to happen to me. In the end, my husband and I decided on my brother and his wife, despite the fact that they live on the opposite side of the country as us. They would be the best parents for our children, would give them undying love and would raise them as their own. That’s all I cared about. The kids would (eventually) get over the relocation and would grow up in a household with the same values as mine…and with their first cousins! If tragedy were to strike, who better to help them through it than family? Great clip…Ed O’Neil had me in stitches!

  • Catherine says:

    It’s refreshing that you’re honest about being in the “awful” boat… Sadly, I’m in the same boat! This seemed like an easy decision with lots of our siblings around us, but they all have kids of their own, too. If you’re lucky enough to have parents with enough energy to take on the task, that would be a great option… I think that’s what we’ll end up doing. Ok, time to get that WILL done!