Substitute House Bill No. 5830

Public Act No. 00-228

An Act Concerning The Best Interest Of Children In Adoption Matters.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) The General Assembly finds that:

(1) The best interests of a child are promoted by having persons in the child's life who manifest a deep concern for the child's growth and development;

(2) The best interests of a child are promoted when a child has as many persons loving and caring for the child as possible;

(3) The best interests of a child are promoted when the child is part of a loving, supportive and stable family, whether that family is a nuclear, extended, split, blended, single parent, adoptive or foster family; and

(4) It is further found that the current public policy of the state of Connecticut is now limited to a marriage between a man and a woman.

Sec. 2. Section 45a-724 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The following persons may give a child in adoption:

(1) A statutory parent appointed under the provisions of section 17a-112, section 45a-717 or section 45a-718 may, by written agreement, subject to the approval of the Court of Probate as provided in section 45a-727, as amended by this act, give in adoption to any adult person any minor child of whom he or she is the statutory parent; provided, if the child has attained the age of twelve, the child shall consent to the agreement.

(2) Subject to the approval of the Court of Probate as provided in section 45a-727, as amended by this act, any parent of a minor child may agree in writing with his or her spouse that the spouse shall adopt or join in the adoption of the child; if that parent is (A) the surviving parent if the other parent has died; (B) the mother of a child born out of wedlock, provided that if there is a putative father who has been notified under the provisions of section 45a-716, the rights of the putative father have been terminated; (C) a former single person who adopted a child and thereafter married; or (D) the sole guardian of the person of the child, if the [other parent's] parental rights, if any, of any person other than the parties to such agreement have been terminated.

(3) Subject to the approval of the Court of Probate as provided in section 45a-727, as amended by this act, any parent of a minor child may agree in writing with one other person who shares parental responsibility for the child with such parent that the other person shall adopt or join in the adoption of the child, if the parental rights, if any, of any other person other than the parties to such agreement have been terminated.

[(3)] (4) Subject to the approval of the Court of Probate as provided in section 45a-727, as amended by this act, the guardian or guardians of the person of any minor child who is free for adoption in accordance with section 45a-725 may agree in writing with a relative that the relative shall adopt the child. For the purposes of this subsection "relative" shall include, but not be limited to, a person who has been adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be the father of a child born out of wedlock, or who has acknowledged his paternity under the provisions of section 46b-172a, with further relationship to the child determined through the father.

(b) If all parties consent to the adoption under [subdivisions (2) and (3)] subdivision (2), (3) or (4) of subsection (a) of this section, then the application to be filed under section 45a-727, as amended by this act, shall be combined with the consent termination of parental rights to be filed under section 45a-717. An application made under [subdivisions (2) and (3)] subdivision (2), (3) or (4) of subsection (a) of this section shall not be granted in the case of any child who has attained the age of twelve without the child's consent.

Sec. 3. Section 45a-727 of the general statutes, as amended by section 10 of public act 99-166, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) (1) Each adoption matter shall be instituted by filing an application in a Court of Probate, together with the written agreement of adoption, in duplicate. One of the duplicates shall be sent immediately to the Commissioner of Children and Families.

(2) The application shall incorporate a declaration that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the declarant there is no other proceeding pending or contemplated in any other court affecting the custody of the child to be adopted, or if there is such a proceeding, a statement in detail of the nature of the proceeding and affirming that the proposed adoption would not conflict with or interfere with the other proceeding. The court shall not proceed on any application which does not contain such a declaration. The application shall be signed by one or more of the parties to the agreement, who may waive notice of any hearing on it. For the purposes of this declaration, visitation rights granted by any court shall not be considered as affecting the custody of the child.

(3) An application for the adoption of a minor child not related to the adopting parents shall not be accepted by the Court of Probate unless (A) the child sought to be adopted has been placed for adoption by the Commissioner of Children and Families or a child-placing agency, and the placement for adoption has been approved by the commissioner or a child-placing agency; (B) the placement requirements of this section have been waived by the Adoption Review Board as provided in section 45a-764; [or] (C) the application is for adoption of a minor child by a stepparent as provided in section 45a-733; or (D) the application is for adoption of a child by another person who shares parental responsibility for the child with the parent as provided in subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of section 45a-724, as amended by this act. The commissioner or a child-placing agency may place a child in adoption who has been identified or located by a prospective parent, provided any such placement shall be made in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioner pursuant to section 45a-728. If any such placement is not made in accordance with such regulations, the adoption application shall not be approved by the Court of Probate.

(4) The application and the agreement of adoption shall be filed in the Court of Probate for the district where the adopting parent resides or in the district where the main office or any local office of the statutory parent is located.

(5) The provisions of section 17a-152, regarding placement of a child from another state, and section 17a-175, regarding the interstate compact on the placement of children, shall apply to adoption placements.

(b) (1) The Court of Probate shall request the commissioner or a child-placing agency to make an investigation and written report to it, in duplicate, within sixty days from the receipt of such request. A duplicate of the report shall be sent immediately to the Commissioner of Children and Families.

(2) The report shall be filed with the Court of Probate within the sixty-day period. The report shall indicate the physical and mental status of the child and shall also contain such facts as may be relevant to determine whether the proposed adoption will be in the best interests of the child, including the physical, mental, genetic and educational history of the child and the physical, mental, social and financial condition of the parties to the agreement and the biological parents of the child, if known, and whether the best interests of the child would be served in accordance with the criteria set forth in section 1 of this act. The report shall include a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse suffered by the child, if any. The report may set forth conclusions as to whether or not the proposed adoption will be in the best interests of the child.

(3) The physical, mental and genetic history of the child shall include information about: (A) The child's health status at the time of placement; (B) the child's birth, neonatal, and other medical, psychological, psychiatric, and dental history information; (C) a record of immunizations for the child; and (D) the available results of medical, psychological, psychiatric and dental examinations of the child. The report shall include information, to the extent known, about past and existing relationships between the child and the child's siblings, biological parents, extended family, and other persons who have had physical possession of or legal access to the child. The educational history of the child shall include, to the extent known, information about the enrolment and performance of the child in educational institutions, results of educational testing and standardized tests for the child, and special educational needs, if any, of the child.

(4) The adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of the records and other information relating to the history of the child maintained by the commissioner or child-placing agency. The adoptive parents are entitled to receive copies of the records, provided if required by law, the copies have been edited to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential and other identifying information relating to the history of the child. It is the duty of the person placing the child for adoption to edit, to the extent required by law, the records and information to protect the identity of the biological parents and any other person whose identity is confidential.

(5) The report shall be admissible in evidence subject to the right of any interested party to require that the person making it appear as a witness, if available, and such person shall be subject to examination.

(6) For any report under this section the Court of Probate may assess against the adopting parent or parents a reasonable fee covering the cost and expenses of making the investigation. The fee shall be paid to the state or to the child-placing agency making the investigation and report, provided the report shall be made within the sixty-day period or other time set by the court.

(c) (1) Upon the expiration of the sixty-day period or upon the receipt of such report, whichever is first, the Court of Probate shall set a day for a hearing upon the agreement and shall give reasonable notice of the hearing to the parties to the agreement, the child-placing agency if such agency is involved in the adoption, the Commissioner of Children and Families and to the child, if over twelve years of age.

(2) At the hearing the court may deny the application, enter a final decree approving the adoption if it is satisfied that the adoption is in the best interests of the child or order a further investigation and written report to be filed, in duplicate, within whatever period of time it directs. A duplicate of such report shall be sent to the commissioner. The court may adjourn the hearing to a day after that fixed for filing the report. If such report has not been filed with the court within the specified time, the court may thereupon deny the application or enter a final decree in the manner provided in this section.

(3) The Court of Probate shall not disapprove any adoption under this section solely because of an adopting parent's marital status or because of a difference in race, color or religion between a prospective adopting parent and the child to be adopted or because the adoption may be subsidized in accordance with the provisions of section 17a-117.

(4) The Court of Probate shall ascertain as far as possible the date and the place of birth of the child and shall incorporate such facts in the final decree, a copy of which shall be sent to the Commissioner of Children and Families.

Sec. 4. Section 45a-731 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

A final decree of adoption, whether issued by a court of this state or a court of any other jurisdiction, shall have the following effect in this state:

(1) All rights, duties and other legal consequences of the biological relation of child and parent shall thereafter exist between the adopted person and the adopting parent and [his] the relatives of such adopting parent. Such adopted person shall be treated as if [he] such adopted person were the biological child of the adopting parent, for all purposes including the applicability of statutes which do not expressly exclude an adopted person in their operation or effect;

(2) The adopting parent and the adopted person shall have rights of inheritance from and through each other and the biological and adopted relatives of the adopting parent. The right of inheritance of an adopted person extends to the heirs of such adopted person, and such heirs shall be the same as if such adopted person were the biological child of the adopting parent;

(3) The adopted person and the biological children and other adopted children of the adopting parent shall be treated, unless otherwise provided by statute, as siblings, having rights of inheritance from and through each other. Such rights of inheritance extend to the heirs of such adopted person and of the biological children and other adopted children, and such heirs shall be the same as if each such adopted person were the biological child of the adopting parent;

(4) The adopted person shall, except as hereinafter provided, be treated as if [he] such adopted person were the biological child of the adopting parent for purposes of the applicability of all documents and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption decree is issued, which do not expressly exclude an adopted person in their operation or effect. The words "child", "children", "issue", "descendant", "descendants", "heir", "heirs", "lawful heirs", "grandchild" and "grandchildren", when used in any will or trust instrument shall include legally adopted persons unless such document clearly indicates a contrary intention. Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter or modify the provisions of section 45a-257 concerning revocation of a will when a child is born as the result of artificial insemination;

(5) [The] Except in the case of an adoption as provided in subdivision (2) or (3) of subsection (a) of section 45a-724, as amended by this act, the legal relationship between the adopted person and [his] the adopted person's biological parent or parents and the relatives of such biological parent or parents is terminated for all purposes, including the applicability of statutes which do not expressly include such an adopted person in their operation and effect. The biological parent or parents of the adopted person is relieved of all parental rights and responsibilities;

(6) [The] Except in the case of an adoption as provided in subdivision (2) or (3) of subsection (a) of section 45a-724, as amended by this act, the biological parent or parents and their relatives shall have no rights of inheritance from or through the adopted person, nor shall the adopted person have any rights of inheritance from or through [his] the biological parent or parents of the adopted person and [their] the relatives of such biological parent or parents, except as provided in this section;

(7) [The] Except in the case of an adoption as provided in subdivision (2) or (3) of subsection (a) of section 45a-724, as amended by this act, the legal relationship between the adopted person and [his] the adopted person's biological parent or parents and the relatives of such biological parent or parents is terminated for purposes of the construction of documents and instruments, whether executed before or after the adoption decree is issued, which do not expressly include the individual by name or by some designation not based on a parent and child or blood relationship, except as provided in this section;

(8) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions (1) to (7), inclusive, of this section, when one of the biological parents of a minor child has died and the surviving parent has remarried subsequent to such parent's death, adoption of such child by the person with whom such remarriage is contracted shall not affect the rights of such child to inherit from or through the deceased parent and the deceased parent's relatives;

(9) Nothing in this section shall deprive an adopted person who is the biological child of a veteran who served in time of war as defined in section 27-103 of aid under the provisions of section 27-140 or deprive a child receiving benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 USC Sec. 301 et seq., as amended from time to time, from continued receipt of benefits authorized under said act;

(10) Except as provided in subdivision (11) of this section, the provisions of law in force prior to October 1, 1959, affected by the provisions of this section shall apply to the estates or wills of persons dying prior to said date and to inter vivos instruments executed prior to said date and which on said date were not subject to the grantor's power to revoke or amend;

(11) The provisions of subdivisions (1) to (9), inclusive, of this section shall apply to the estate or wills of persons dying prior to October 1, 1959, and to inter vivos instruments executed prior to said date and which on said date were not subject to the grantor's power to revoke or amend, unless (A) a contrary intention of the testator or grantor is demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence or (B) distribution of the estate or under the will or under the inter vivos instrument has been or will be made pursuant to court order entered prior to October 1, 1991;

(12) No fiduciary, distributee of the estate, or person to whom a legacy has been paid shall be liable to any other person for any action taken or benefit received prior to October 1, 1991, provided any such action was taken or benefit was received in good faith by such fiduciary, distributee or legatee with respect to the applicability of statutes concerning the rights of inheritance or rights to take of adopted persons under any instrument executed prior to October 1, 1959;

(13) No fiduciary shall have the obligation to determine the rights of inheritance or rights to take of an adopted person under an instrument executed prior to October 1, 1959, unless the fiduciary receives a written claim for benefits by or on behalf of such adopted person.

Sec. 5. (NEW) Nothing in this act shall be construed to establish or constitute an endorsement of any public policy with respect to marriage, civil union or any other form of relation between unmarried persons or with respect to any rights of or between such persons other than their rights and responsibilities to a child who is a subject of an adoption as provided for in sections 2 and 3 of this act.

Approved June 1, 2000