Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

Judges Have A Great Deal of Discretion in Approving Adoptions in Missouri

Last week, I discussed the situation of  “Angelina and Brad”, an unmarried couple, and the fact that Brad has decided to adopt Angelina’s two children as his own, without any indication that the two of them intend to marry. Even though such an adoption would provide Brad with permanent access to her children no matter what the state of her relationship with Brad, Angelina appears supportive of his plans.


Despite their apparent agreement, Brad still has to petition the Family Court to approve his adopting the two little girls and that’s where he may encounter some resistance. The judge reviewing his petition will base his/her decision not just on Brad’s fitness as a father, or on Angelina’s support, although both factors will weigh heavily upon the outcome. However, the main criteria will be the judge’s determination of what is in the best interests of the children.


If Brad were filing his petition in the state of Missouri…an unlikely possibility since Brad, although a Missouri native, now resides out of state…the probability of it being approved would be affected significantly by the prevailing attitudes in the county in which he filed, and the personal beliefs of the judge assigned to his case. That’s because in Missouri judges have wide latitude in determining what is in a child’s best interests, even though the Missouri adoption statue does not require that the prospective parents be married or of the opposite sex.


For example, the court could reasonably be concerned about the lack of permanency in a relationship such as Brad and Angelina’s, and the affect a break-up could have on the child. Additionally, some judges and the communities they serve might believe that an unmarried couple, living together, would be bad role models for the child and refuse to further sanction that relationship by allowing the non-parent to adopt.


All these questions and more face the same sex couple interested in adopting a child, and particularly so when neither is the child’s natural parent. Some judges may fear, like their constituents, that a child raised by parents of the same gender may be led to homosexuality as a result, although I know of no reliable evidence supporting that belief.


Within the local metropolitan area, St. Louis City is widely viewed as the jurisdiction most receptive to approving adoptions by unmarried adults and same-sex couples. Even so, hundreds of children available for adoption in the city remain parentless. According to Judge Garvey of the Circuit Court in the City of St. Louis, who spoke at a recent seminar on adoption law, there are over 700 city children now waiting to be adopted.


Finally, as we head into the new year, I want to thank all my readers for their interest, comments and questions. I wish all of you the most joyous of holiday seasons, and the healthiest and happiest of new years. Peace.