21 year old Lindsey Graham adopted his 13 year old sister when their parents died. Why?

US Senator Lindsey Graham adopted his 13 year old sisterwhen their parents died. Why? Why couldn’t he simply be her adult guardian as her adult brother?

Why was adoption necessary? What would be the legally necessary rationale for this?

If he was in the military at the time, there may have been some legal reason. A military person may not have been allowed to take on the responsibility of a ward, but was allowed to adopt a child. Who knows? The military has tight rules about who you can and can’t get support for as well. Maybe he couldn’t get support for her as her guardian, but he could as her adoptive father.

Also, maybe he intended to emancipate her when she was 16. As her legal parent, he had the power to do that, but as her guardian, he didn’t. There are a few other things a guardian didn’t (and still doesn’t have the power to do, at least depending on the state). Adopting her meant that if he wanted to give her permission for elective surgery, or to get married before she was 18, he didn’t have to bother to look up the law. As he parent, he could do what he wanted. Also, she would automatically inherit from him, equally with any biological (or other adoptive) children he might have. As his sister, she would inherit only if he had no living spouse or children. Maybe he wanted to leave her money and make sure no one could challenge the will.

Depending on the state, he may not have been able to just up and move out of state with her as her guardian, but as her parent, again, he could do whatever he wanted.

The original story (11 in the reference section) cited in the Wiki article says he became her legal guardian. Adoption is not mentioned.

Adoption is permanent and the law grants an adoptive parent the identical legal rights as a natural parent. A guardianship may be reversed upon a showing of changed circumstances.

His campaign website says he eventually legally adopted her, and there is an NPR article saying that it was so that she could receive dependent benefits when he entered the military.

This is bizarre. Here’s an interview with his sister and adoption is not mentioned.

I wonder if it’s just journalists not knowing the difference.

I knew two sisters who were actually biologically cousins. The parents of one died, and the mothers, who were sisters, were immigrants. The girls were all born here, but they feared a custody challenge from a grandparent in Europe; also, they wanted to make sure that if anything happened to the biological aunt, both girls would stay together with the man who was now the father of both, even though he wasn’t a blood relative of his biological niece. If he was just a guardian, and something had happened to his wife, he’d have to prove his worthiness to keep the girl all over again, and at that point, a challenge from a blood relative, even one overseas, might get a lot of weight.

I know it’s not the same situation at all, but it’s a situation that shows very clearly why adoption is in some cases preferable to adoption. We may never get Sen. Graham’s actual personal reason, but suffice to say, there are plenty of potential ones.

Did you mean “adoption is preferable to guardianship”?

It even says so on Lindsey Graham’s official campaign website:

I think some of the confusion in this case is due to the gap between events. At first he assumed legal guardianship and then later adopted her. If you are referring to what happened shortly after their parents died then you talk about guardianship.

Mrs. FtG had this happen a couple generations back. The mother died shortly after childbirth and the father was useless so the oldest sister adopted the baby. Another sister became a nun, which resulted in the following odd conversation between her and the youngest sister’s kids:

“Are you our aunt or great-aunt?”
“Yes, but you can call me ‘sister’.”