Q. 1. My grandmother told me that if I accept to become a Godparent, should the parents of my godchild die, I will have to accept the responsibility of raising the child. Is this true? I never heard of that before.
A. 1. That is a good question. The first obligation of the godparent is to support the parent of the godchild with the religious upbringing of the child.
Does that mean that a godparent has to adopt his godchild should the parents die? Unless the parents have indicated this in their Last Will (Last Testament) that in case of their death or total disability, the godparents are to obtain full custody of their children, (if they wish to have custody) the godparents have no custodial rights over their godchildren. This matter should be discussed in details between the parents of a child and the godparent(s) to ensure that no surprises will be written in a Last Will.
While some godparents may not object to obtaining the custody of their godchild in the event of parental death, in some cases, such may not be possible. As a general rule, when a number of children from the same family are involved, the Courts do not desire to separate the children who are striving to cope with the loss of their parents. As such, all the children may be placed together with one godparent or none at all.
Your grandmother may be referring to those days that are long gone when there were few laws to protect the rights of the children. In those days, many large families protected their own blood relatives, refusing to let them be raised in an orphanage. The aunts and uncles gladly adopted their orphaned nieces and nephews. In time of war, such an application is frequently practiced.
Each country has its own laws. In some countries, the government cannot be bothered with orphans. They are left to attend to themselves on the street. In other countries, the government immediately takes custody of the children involved and appoints a child care worker to do home studies in order to determine what would be best for the child. If such is contested in the court, then the judge makes the final decision.