MAKE ADOPTION BY FAMILY MEMBERS EASIER

By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to a Senate-approved bill that would repeal a current law which prohibits adoption of children by family members including older siblings, aunts and uncles.

The proposal would allow these family members, with the permission of the county probate courts, to legally adopt their family members. Current law only allows these family members to apply to become a guardian. The measure still needs additional rounds of approval in each branch.

“The commonwealth has made great strides in broadening the legal definition of a family, to reflect the realities of those who love and care for one another in Massachusetts, especially in light of the pandemic and loss of parents and loved ones from Covid-19,” said sponsor Sen. Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “This legislation would repeal an outdated provision of the law that excludes family members from adopting their younger siblings, aunts, and uncles. Preventing the adoption of younger siblings and aunts and uncles was a provision put in place at the beginning of the last century, to prevent the potential for inheritance abuse, but the commonwealth has since adopted legal protections, such as conservatorships, to prevent this from occurring.”

“Promoting kinship placements has long been a priority of the commonwealth, to minimize family separation and trauma,” continued Lovely. “As a result, allowing younger siblings, aunts and uncles to be adopted, in appropriate settings, will assist in easing difficult situations for our most vulnerable youth.”

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