Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another adult adoption story

Readers of this blog know my interest in the historical practice of a gay man or lesbian adopting his/her same-sex partner as a means of creating a legal relationship. Here are my previous posts.

Well, this week's Washington Post Sunday "On Love" page features the marriage of Bob Davis, 89, and his partner of 62 years, Henry Schalizki, 90. Deep in the article, Henry reports that he adopted Bob in 1990. Presumably summarizing the reasons the couple gave for that decision, the article states, "It gave them legal protections, offered an advantageous inheritance tax rate [my comment: I'm not sure what that would be], and made the pair into a family."

Six paragraphs later, in parentheses, the article notes that the adoption was nullified several weeks before the couple's wedding. Had it not been, incest laws would have barred their marriage. Adoption is not like marriage; there's no equivalent to divorce if it doesn't work out. That's one reason gay and lesbian family lawyers have been reluctant to advise a same-sex couple to go the adoption route.

So this article sent me to the DC Code. (Given that the couple moved to DC in the 1950's, I'm assuming the adoption was granted in DC). "Jurisdictional or procedural" grounds for challenging an adoption must be filed within a year of the decree, but otherwise the statutes are silent on when an adoption can be invalidated. I imagine the couple filed for "equitable" relief invalidating the decree so that they would be free to marry. They are fortunate that the DC Code appears to allow a judge the leeway to grant such an order. Otherwise, they would still be father and son.

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