The younger the birth mother, the more compelled her own parents (the child's birth grandparents) may be to raise both the birth mother and her child. Their daughter has every right to choose how she wants to handle an unplanned pregnancy. If she chooses adoption or to try to raise the child herself, there's a good chance that the birth grandparents will end up with custody of the child.
If the birth grandparents decide they want to rear the child themselves, whether from infancy or later in life, the process is generally informal in comparison to stepparent adoption. Sometimes this is called "kinship adoption." This is seen as a favorable alternative by Child Protective Services to placing the child into the foster system. Millions of children, more than those adopted, live with grandparents or relatives. Financial benefits, such as health care, may factor into the decision to bring the child into the parents' legal custody.
The legal process for grandchild adoption requires the parent or parents' rights be terminated. A new birth certificate will be issued with the grandparents' names listed at the child's parents.
Grandchild adoption can be tricky later in life, however, it keeps the child with family and in some ways the grandparents are perceived as the family members on which the family's unity relies as they symbolize tradition and family roots.