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September 1, 2007

Maine Supreme Court Supports Same-Sex Adoption

On Aug. 30, 2007, the Maine Supreme Court overturned a decision by the probate court refusing to grant a petition for adoption filed by a same-sex couple. 

Reviewing the decision of the Supreme Court, it seems obvious that the Probate Court disregarded the best interest of the children based on semantics.  The Probate Court refused to grant the petition because it did not have "jurisdiction" under the Maine adoption statute.  The statute clearly provides for adoption by one unmarried person, but neither explicitly forbids or denies adoption by two unmarried persons. 

In Adoption of M.A., 2007 M.E. 123 (Me. 2007), Supreme Court wisely pointed out that the same-sex couple could easily get around the provisions and adopt children together by filing separate petitions and consolidating them or by a second-parent adoption.  Thus, the Court noted that the statute is ambiguous and turned to the purpose of the statute for guidance.

Obviously, the primary purpose for adoption is to provide for a child's best interest by allowing the child to grow up with a parent or parents where the child otherwise might have none (in the case of a foster child, for instance--exactly the type of children involved in this case).  Id. at *24.  In fact, in my humble opinion, the more caring people interested in raising a child, the better.   Additionally, it is important to note that the two children involved in this case suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit disorder, among other things, due (in part) to the fact that their birth parents' rights had been terminated.  The children had been living with the couple for approximately 5 years.  Both the guardian ad litem and the home study recommended the couple as fit, able parents.  Id. at *4.  It would be traumatic for the children to  be removed from the care of their loving foster parents because of an ambiguous adoption statute.

Noting that the adoption statute should be "liberally construed," the court held that the probate court has jurisdiction to permit same-sex adoptions.  Id. at  31.


-SRB

September 1, 2007 in Family Law, Sara R. Benson | Permalink

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Comments

This is awesome. I practice in Michigan and it is very frustrating here. Our adoption statute likewise does not prohibit second-parent adoption explicitly, but at least one justice on our Supreme Court has said that they aren't authorized and therefore forbidden. He effectively stopped the practice in this state (there were a couple of judges who would grant such adoptions) despite there not being a case before the Court.

Posted by: Denise | Sep 3, 2007 5:26:24 AM

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