2007 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 93-17-3 AND 93-17-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE A SAFE ADOPTION HOME STUDY TO BE PERFORMED IN ALL ADOPTIONS OF A CHILD FROM A FOREIGN COUNTRY AND TO PROVIDE THAT SUCH HOME STUDY SHALL BE VALID FOR 24 MONTHS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 93-17-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
93-17-3. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (2) and (3), a court of this state has jurisdiction over a proceeding for the adoption of a minor commenced under this chapter if:
(a) Immediately before commencement of the proceeding, the minor lived in this state with a parent, a guardian, a prospective adoptive parent or another person acting as parent, for at least six (6) consecutive months, excluding periods of temporary absence, or, in the case of a minor under six (6) months of age, lived in this state from soon after birth with any of those individuals and there is available in this state substantial evidence concerning the minor's present or future care;
(b) Immediately before commencement of the proceeding, the prospective adoptive parent lived in this state for at least six (6) consecutive months, excluding periods of temporary absence, and there is available in this state substantial evidence concerning the minor's present or future care;
(c) The agency that placed the minor for adoption is licensed in this state and it is in the best interest of the minor that a court of this state assume jurisdiction because:
(i) The minor and the minor's parents, or the minor and the prospective adoptive parent, have a significant connection with this state; and
(ii) There is available in this state substantial evidence concerning the minor's present or future care;
(d) The minor and the prospective adoptive parent are physically present in this state and the minor has been abandoned or it is necessary in an emergency to protect the minor because the minor has been subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse or is otherwise neglected; or
(e) It appears that no other state would have jurisdiction under prerequisites substantially in accordance with paragraphs (a) through (d), or another state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this state is the more
appropriate forum to hear a petition for adoption of the minor, and it is in the best interest of the minor that a court of this state assume jurisdiction.
(2) A court of this state may not exercise jurisdiction over a proceeding for adoption of a minor if, at the time the petition for adoption is filed, a proceeding concerning the custody or adoption of the minor is pending in a court of another state exercising jurisdiction substantially in conformity with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act or this section unless the proceeding is stayed by the court of the other state.
(3) If a court of another state has issued a decree or order concerning the custody of a minor who may be the subject of a proceeding for adoption in this state, a court of this state may not exercise jurisdiction over a proceeding for adoption of the minor unless:
(a) The court of this state finds that the court of the state which issued the decree or order:
(i) Does not have continuing jurisdiction to modify the decree or order under jurisdictional prerequisites substantially in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act or has declined to assume jurisdiction to
modify the decree or order; or
(ii) Does not have jurisdiction over a proceeding for adoption substantially in conformity with subsection (1)(a) through (d) or has declined to assume jurisdiction over a proceeding for adoption; and
(b) The court of this state has jurisdiction over the proceeding.
(4) Any person may be adopted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter in term time or in vacation by an unmarried adult or by a married person whose spouse joins in the petition. The adoption shall be by sworn petition filed in the chancery court of the county in which the adopting petitioner or petitioners reside or in which the child to be adopted resides or was born, or was found when it was abandoned or deserted, or in which the home is located to which the child has been surrendered by a person authorized to so do. The petition shall be accompanied by a doctor's or nurse practitioner's certificate showing the physical and mental condition of the child to be adopted and a sworn statement of all property, if any, owned by the child. If the doctor's or nurse practitioner's certificate indicates any abnormal mental or physical condition or defect, the condition or defect shall not in the discretion of the chancellor bar the adoption of the child if the adopting parent or parents file an affidavit stating full and complete knowledge of the condition or defect and stating a desire to adopt the child, notwithstanding the condition or defect. The court shall have the power to change the name of the child as a part of the adoption proceedings. The word "child" herein shall be construed to refer to the person to be adopted, though an adult.
(5) Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.
(6) No child from a foreign country may be adopted before a court-ordered safe adoption home study of the potential adopting parties is satisfactorily completed. Such home study for an international adoption shall be valid for twenty-four (24) months.
SECTION 2. Section 93-17-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
93-17-13. A final decree of adoption shall not be entered before the expiration of six (6) months from the entry of the interlocutory decree except (a) when a child is a stepchild of a petitioner or is related by blood to the petitioner within the third degree according to the rules of the civil law or in any case in which the chancellor in the exercise of his discretion shall determine from all the proceedings and evidence in said cause that the six-month waiting period is not necessary or required for the benefit of the court, the petitioners or the child to be adopted, and shall so adjudicate in the decree entered in said cause, in either of which cases the final decree may be entered immediately without any delay and without an interlocutory decree, or (b) when the child has resided in the home of any petitioner prior to the granting of the interlocutory decree, in which case the court may, in its discretion, shorten the waiting period by the length of time the child has thus resided.
The final decree shall adjudicate, in addition to such other provisions as may be found by the court to be proper for the protection of the interests of the child; and its effect, unless otherwise specifically provided, shall be that (a) the child shall inherit from and through the adopting parents and shall likewise inherit from the other children of the adopting parents to the same extent and under the same conditions as provided for the inheritance between brothers and sisters of the full blood by the laws of descent and distribution of the State of Mississippi, and that the adopting parents and their other children shall inherit from the child, just as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock; (b) the child and the adopting parents and adoptive kindred are vested with all of the rights, powers, duties and obligations, respectively, as if such child had been born to the adopting parents in lawful wedlock, including all rights existing by virtue of Section 11-7-13, Mississippi Code of 1972; provided, however, that inheritance by or from the adopted child shall be governed by subsection (a) above; (c) that the name of the child shall be changed if desired; and (d) that the natural parents and natural kindred of the child shall not inherit by or through the child except as to a natural parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent, and all parental rights of the natural parent, or parents, shall be terminated, except as to a natural parent who is the spouse of the adopting parent. Nothing in this chapter shall restrict the right of any person to dispose of property under a last will and testament.
A final decree of adoption of a child from a foreign country shall not be entered until a court ordered safe adoption home study is satisfactorily completed. Any such home study shall be valid for twenty-four (24) months.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.