Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation clearing the way for adults to adopt their siblings and younger aunts or uncles, a bill that the state's official Child Advocate says will create more stability in the lives of the state's most vulnerable children.
A Baker aide disclosed on Saturday that the governor had signed the bill (S 261) on Friday.
In November, Child Advocate Maria Mossaides told lawmakers that many of the estimated 2,800 children in foster care with a goal of adoption "will move from foster care placement to foster care placement and never end up being adopted."
"Updating the law to allow for all family members to adopt will give these children an increased opportunity for a permanent stability and safety through kinship adoption," she wrote. "The pre-existing relationship between a relative caregiver and a child is one of the many factors that can make kinship care a positive experience for vulnerable children. Kinship caregivers know the child's history and unique needs, which can lessen the trauma of being separated from one's parent. Maintaining familial ties and cultural traditions can also be reassuring for the child, even if the child and the relative are just getting to know each other."
The bill enacts a "simple procedural fix to allow a child to be adopted by any appropriate kin, when it is in the child's best interest," according to Mossaides, who noted guardianship options in such cases are not permanent legal options like adoption.