Adopted Children Deserve Better: A CASA’s View (HB 1162)

The following article is a guest post from a former New Hampshire CASA Advocate and friend of Cornerstone

As a former New Hampshire CASA who has represented children through the adoption process, I am concerned about the provisions of HB 1162, especially as they have been amended. By opening adoption to any “two adults” together, the law as proposed does not seem to be in the best interests of the adopted child.

Currently, RSA 170-B:4 requires that two adults be married in order to adopt. In other words, that they are in a long-term committed relationship. Under the proposed amendment, there would be no requirement for such a commitment. Any two adults could adopt without regard to their relationship with each other, or even if they reside in the same household. There are other expansions to the definition of eligible adults to include an unmarried adult who is legally able to become an adoptive parent if they have the “intention to share parenting responsibilities with one of the adoptee’s parents.”

Understanding the insecure care background of the vast majority of children in the foster care system, security and constancy are primary considerations when considering adoption. These children have often experienced abandonment or have lived in a “revolving door” of parental figures who come and go. Removing any requirement that couples be in a stable, committed relationship opens the door for greater insecurity and risk for more instability in these children’s home environment.

Relying on the court to sort out the viability of an adoptive pair is unrealistic. Courts rely on the recommendation of DCYF, an agency that is resource-limited and pressured to place children as quickly as possible in an environment of increasingly heavy caseloads. Even with an assigned CASA who may have reservations, the push to place children with an “acceptable” adoptive parent or parents is hard to overcome.

I strongly feel children need to be in a stable, loving environment. If two adults are involved, they are creating that environment together and should be in a defined, committed, and stable relationship. Anything less would be a disservice.