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Legal Memorandum: Issues Relevant to an Adoption Matter

Issue: Under Minnesota law, what issues are relevant in an adoption matter to determine whether the Commissioner’s consent was ‘unreasonably withheld’.

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Adoption matter; Commissioner's consent; Best interests of the child
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 515 N.W.2d 618; 497 N.W.2d 625; 512 N.W.2d 894
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 260C.212, subd. 2(b) (2008)
Date: 09/01/2008

“Because the decision to grant or deny consent to an adoption cannot be made without considering the particular situation of the child, the trial court must be free to examine all relevant evidence to determine whether the Commissioner’s action was in the best interests of the child.”  In re S.T., 512 N.W.2d 894, 898 (Minn. 1994) (emphasis added).  In other words, “[t]he question of whether the Commissioner’s consent was unreasonably withheld requires consideration of the best interests of the children.”  In re S.T., 497 N.W.2d 625, 629 (Minn. App. 1993) (lower court opinion in S.T. case, rev’d on other grounds).  “Although deference should be accorded the Commissioner’s expertise in this matter, the district court retains an independent interest and authority where the children in question are wards of the state due to parental termination.”  Id. at 629.  In the S.T. case, the court held that the record was insufficient to reach a conclusion as to whether the Commissioner’s decision to deny consent was reasonable or unreasonable; although an aunt of the children could have been a suitable adoptive parent, that did not automatically mean that the foster parents should be precluded from pursuing the adoption.  512 N.W.2d at 898.  “Indeed, the suitability of the aunt is unknown,” the court explained.  Id.  “Each situation [is] different, and the more information available to the court at the time the reasonableness of the grant or denial of consent is determined, the better.”  Id.    

Thus, […]

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