At a certain age, you begin to think about some of the decisions you've made over the years. At times, you may ask yourself, "What was I thinking?" In some cases, you can honestly say, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." It's over and done with; now it's time to move on.
The couple that we have been talking about had a chance to reevaluate a decision they had made more than a decade ago. In their case, though, it wasn't just a good idea at the time -- it was the only idea. Their dilemma had just one solution, and it put them in a difficult position last year when the law changed.
While many of us assume adoptions involve children, it is possible for one adult to adopt another. Not every state allows it, but Minnesota and this couple's state, Pennsylvania, do. The adoption creates a family from legal strangers. Both the adoptive and the adopted adults gain standing to inherit from the other. The adoption also makes it possible for the "parent and child" to overcome rules in hospitals and the like that only allow relatives or next-of-kin to visit or to make decisions for an ailing loved one.
In our last post, we explained that these men, partners for years, had entered into such an adoption because Pennsylvania did not recognize the domestic partnership they established in New York. In 2014, Pennsylvania lifted the ban on same-sex marriage. For this couple, though, the adoption became a barrier to being legally married.
In Pennsylvania, a woman who consents to the adoption of her child has 30 days to revoke that consent. A putative or birth father may also revoke consent, this time within 30 days the child's birth or the execution of the consent (whichever comes later). What about adult adoptions, though?
While Minnesota requires an adult adoptee to consent, Pennsylvania law gives the court the option of asking for the adoptee's consent. Terminating the couple's adoption cannot rely, then, on revocation of consent.
Pennsylvania law does allow the court to set an adoption aside. It doesn't happen often, though, and the court will only do so for a very good reason.
This couple was able to convince the court that their only option so many years ago has been replaced with an option that carries more weight in society and in the legal system. The court set aside the adoption decree in mid-May.
The two men are now married.
Sources: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes and Minnesota Statutes Annotated, accessed via WestlawNext on June 8, 2015