Chapter 210, Section 1, allows a “person of full age may petition the probate court in the county where he resides for leave to adopt as his child another person younger than himself, unless such other person is his or her wife or husband, or brother, sister, uncle or aunt, of the whole or half blood.”
When a same sex married couple have a child through vitro fertilization (IVF) with the assistance of a known, or unknown, sperm donor they are not require to notify the sperm donor parties of the adoption as the “plain language” in the statute does not require it.
“G. L. c. 210, § 4, requires notice of a petition for adoption to be given only to those persons from whom written consent to the adoption must be obtained. See G. L. c. 210, §§ 2, 4. No notice is required for persons not expressly included in G. L. c. 210, § 2.” Adoption of a Minor, 471 Mass. 373 (2015). Notice is required to be given to the “lawful parent.” The Court finds that “lawful parentage, and its associated rights and responsibilities, is conferred by statute on the consenting spouse of a married couple whose child is conceived by one woman of the marriage, through the use of assisted reproductive technology consented to by both [parents].” Id.
There are circumstances where a “punitive father” may request to establish his paternity. Some of those circumstances would be where the child’s mother was married to someone else at the time of the child’s conception or within 300 days after termination of marriage, or the mother was married when the child was born.
As is in all child custody cases, including adoption, the standard is what is in the best interest of the child. Even when a parent has had little to no interaction or bonding with a child, either by choice, alienation or circumstances, it may not be beneficial for the child to have that relationship permanently severed by way of an adoption. The Court must determine not only what is in the child’s best interest currently but also how that determination impacts the child in a few years, and ultimately for the rest of his/her life.
Once an adoption is granted the child no longer has any rights to any benefits that the biological parent may have to offer, such as child support pursuant to G.L. c. 208, § 28, health insurance coverage, social security benefits in the event of the biological parent’s disability or death. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d) (2010). It would also disqualify the child from inheritance from the biological parent and the biological parent’s family under the laws of intestacy. G.L. c. 210, § 7.
Depending on the adoptive parent’s ability to financially care for the child, the termination of the biological parent’s rights would severe any child support obligation. Therefore, the Court must consider whether the adoptive parents will, may become or are a public charge. Even if the biological parent’s income is minimal the Court will order that parent to pay child support to assist in the well being and care for that child.
The Court must also consider the parent-child relationship and how if severed, through an adoption, would affect the child, now and ultimately forever.
“In the negotiation of their disengagement, divorcing parents may not bargain away the best interests of their children in general, and the children’s right to support, financial or otherwise, from either one of them in particular.” Adoption of Marino, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 656 (2010). See Knox v. Remick, 371 Mass. 433, 437, 358 N.E.2d 432 (1976); Wilcox v. Trautz, 427 Mass. 326, 334-335 n. 7, 693 N.E.2d 141 (1998); White v. Laingor, 434 Mass. at 66, 746 N.E.2d 150; Quinn v. Quinn, 49 Mass.App.Ct. 144, 146, 727 N.E.2d 92 (2000).
However, each case is unique and the circumstances in each case must be looked at to determine if adoption is a viable option.