408 Mass. 446 (1990), Adoption of Thomas
|Citation:||408 Mass. 446, 559 N.E.2d 1230|
|Party Name:||ADOPTION OF THOMAS.|
|Case Date:||September 25, 1990|
|Court:||Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts|
Argued May 8, 1990.
David O. Burbank, for petitioners.
Arnold Rosenfeld and Jinanne S.J. Elder, for Committee for Public Counsel Services, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Before LIACOS, C.J., and WILKINS, ABRAMS, NOLAN and O'CONNOR, JJ.
The child, who is the subject of this action, was born on May 14, 1989. Nine days later, his unmarried parents signed a form stating that they "voluntarily and unconditionally surrender[ed]" their child to the Berkshire Center for Families and Children, Inc. (agency), for the purpose of allowing the agency to find adoptive parents. See G.L. c. 210, § 2 (1988 ed.). The mother was fourteen years old, an eighth grade student, and was living with her parents, who witnessed her execution of the consent and surrender form. The child's father was fifteen years old and was a ninth grade student domiciled with his parents but residing in a juvenile detention home. The father's mother and an employee of the agency witnessed his execution of the consent form. The notary public before whom the consent forms were acknowledged [559 N.E.2d 1231] was an employee of the agency. The agency placed the child with the petitioners in this action shortly after the surrender forms were executed and notarized.
This case was initiated by the filing of a petition for adoption in the Berkshire Probate and Family Court (Probate Court). The petitioners subsequently moved that a "decree of adoption" be entered. After a hearing, a judge concluded that certain questions, together with his answers, should be reviewed by the Appeals Court before further proceedings in the Probate Court. Accordingly, the judge "reserve[d] and report[ed] this matter pursuant to G.L. Chapter 215, Section 13." The biological parents have not appeared at any time in these proceedings.
The judge reported the following questions and answers: "Question # 1: Can a minor parent consent to the adoption of his/her child?
"The Trial Court rules that such parent can so consent. "Question # 2: If the answer to the foregoing question is in the affirmative, does the filing of a consent of a minor parent, executed, acknowledged and witnessed in accordance with G.L. Chapter 210, Section 2, prohibit the Trial Court from requiring:
"1] evidence concerning the maturity and understanding of the minor parent at the time of the consent and/or the voluntariness of the consent, or
"2] the imposition of safeguards, such as the appointment of a guardian ad litem, to protect the interests of the minor parent?
"The Trial Court rules that it does not. "Question # 3: Is the 'consent' of a minor parent defective if the notary public before whom the consent is acknowledged is also an employee of the adoption agency to which the child is being surrendered?
"The Trial Court rules that it is."
We transferred this case from the Appeals Court on our own initiative.
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