The legal issues of raising someone else’s children can be thorny. This is a complicated area to be tackled. Legal guardianship can save you many problems.
Problems without guardianship
You should talk to an attorney. It is important to know the pros and cons of legal guardianship and adoption before making a decision. Without some legal custody, you may not qualify for many of the benefits discussed in my post on financial aid. You can’t get insurance on the child without custody.
You could also have problems enrolling the child in school or even getting medical care for him, as a guardian has to give permission.
How to find help
If you need financial assistance getting a lawyer, you could use findlegalhelp.com or call Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116.
A few states have kinship navigator programs. Find out if your state does. These programs will help find aid and services available.
If your state doesn’t have such a program, go to grandfamilies.org and click on your state to find out what is available.
I wish I could offer more specific advice. I am not a lawyer and the laws are very different from state to state. It is surely your best bet to discuss your situation with an attorney.
If you decide to adopt, please check for resources in your area.