Top New Hampshire Court Reverses in Adult Adoption Case

CONCORD, N.H. (CN) – A New Hampshire woman seeking to be adopted as an adult by an unmarried man can still maintain a legal relationship with one of her birth parents, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled.

Reversing a decision by the Nashua Probate Division last week, the state’s highest court said that nowhere in New Hampshire adoption statute is it required that an adult adoptee terminate their legal relationship with both biological parents.

The previous decision required the woman, identified only as Y.L., to sever her legal relationship with her sole parent despite their desire to continue their parent-child relationship. It said that the unmarried man, J.P., could adopt Y.L. only as a single parent.

J.P, represented by Nashua attorney Valerie Raudonis, Y.L., and Y.L’s mother all sought an arrangement where the mother’s legal parental status remained unaltered.

On July 3, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that the circumstances of an adult adoption are different from the adoption of a minor, where the parental rights of the biological parents are required to be either surrendered or terminated.

“This is presumably because the adoptee is, after all, an adult, readily capable of managing his or her own relationships to the extent permitted by law,” Justice Gary Hicks wrote for the five-person court.

Reasons for the adoptions of adults include for inheritance purposes, to formally recognize a relationship and to ensure care for a person of diminished capacity.

Choosing to “remain in line” with courts that consider adoption statutes more liberally, Hicks also noted that the adoption is otherwise authorized by adoption statute. Unmarried adults are eligible to adopt, and Y.L. consents to the adoption.

Neither the Attorney General nor Valerie Raudonis returned requests for comments on the 3-page opinion.

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