You might think the laws and process gelled seven years ago, when the Granite State repealed its ban on gay adoptions. Think again. The Concord Monitor reports on scattered pockets of adoption discrimination, county by county.
Legal Stuff: GLAD has a FAQ on the related laws. Also, the statute that allows this muddle is 170- B:4. It (apparently ambiguously) states:
Who May Adopt.
Any of the following adults may adopt:
I. Husband and wife together.
II. An unmarried adult.
III. The unmarried parent of the adoptee.
IV. A married person without that person's spouse joining as a petitioner, if the adoptee is not the petitioner's spouse; and if any one of the following circumstances apply:
(a) The petitioner's spouse is a parent of the adoptee and assents to the adoption;
(b) The petitioner and his or her spouse are legally separated;
(c) The failure of the petitioner's spouse to join in the petition is excused by the court by reason of prolonged unexplained absence, unavailability, or circumstances constituting an unreasonable withholding of assent; or
(d) The petitioner's spouse assents to the adoption and the adoptee is over the age of 18.
The way it works in N.H. is in Belknap County, two partnered women can adopt a child together, providing they convince the judge "they have kept a loving and stable home." In Merrimack County, they don't fit the single-adult definition, as far as the probate court is concerned. One single adult, okay. So, the partner of the adopter is out of luck and out of legal rights.
Merrimack County Probate Judge Richard Hampe said, "
Six of the nine counties do permit gay or straight unmarried couples to adopt. As Coos County Probate Judge David King puts it, "If our goal is a unified and stable household, and I think it should be, I think we have to be a little open-minded." He basis his view not on a literal reading of the sparse law, but on the state Supreme Court opinion by the then Justice David Souter that the deciding factor in an adoption was whether the home is "unified and stable."
The open-minded counties are Balknap, Carroll, Coos, Rockingham, Strafford and Sullivan. The restrictive ones are Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough, and Merrimack.
Also, with guardianship, the couple must file a report annually with the county probate court confirming that they continue to provide the child with a good home. Concord Attorney Ann McLane Kuster adds, "Guardianships come and go. The court can change guardianship but not adoption."
Tags: massmarrier, New Hampshire, adoption, same-sex