Brief Fact Summary. Two unmarried women living together in a committed relationship conceived a child where the mother was artificially inseminated by the cousin of the other woman. The couple petitioned for adoption by the non-mother, who was actively raising the child along with the mother as her own.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The statutory law grants jurisdiction for the court to enter judgment on a joint petition for adoption brought by two unmarried cohabitants in the petitioners’ circumstances, and the statutory law does not require the mother to terminate her legal relationship to her daughter due to the proceeding.
Issue. Did the court have jurisdiction under statutory law to enter judgment on a joint petition for adoption brought by two unmarried cohabitants in the petitioners’ circumstances?
Held. The statutory law does not bar the adoption by two unmarried cohabitants in the above described situation.
Nothing on the face of the statute precludes the joint adoption by two unmarried cohabitants. The statute does not expressly prohibit or require joinder by any person, and clearly absent is any prohibition of adoption by two unmarried individuals like the petitioner.
All requirements of the statute are met, and there is no question that the judge’s findings demonstrate that the directives of the statute and in case law have been satisfied. Adoption will serve to provide Tammy with a significant legal relationship, including inheritance, health insurance coverage, and social security benefits. Of equal or greater importance, it will preserve her unique filial ties to Helen in the event that Helen and Susan separate, or Susan predeceases Helen. In similar circumstances when the couple separates or one of the two dies, the children often remain in legal limbo without such adoption proceedings.
The judge also questioned whether Susan’s legal relationship to Tammy must be terminated if Tammy is adopted. The statute does not contain any express exceptions to its termination provision, but the Legislature obviously did not intend that a natural parent’s legal relationship to its child be terminated when the natural parent is a party to the adoption petition. The section is clearly directed to the more usual circumstances of adoption, where the child is adopted by persons who are not the child’s natural parents.
Discussion. The Court found that there was no statutory obstacle to adoption by the same sex couple, and that any apparent need for the mother’s legal relationship to be terminated was not legislatively intended. Further, the Court pointed out the beneficial legal protections that arise from such an adoption.