Adoption of Kimberly
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
609 N.E.2d 73 (1993)
Kimberly and Joyce were the minor children of the same mother but had different fathers. Bob was the father of Joyce. While Kimberly and Joyce lived with their mother, they were both sexually abused by Bob. Although Bob and their mother were not married and did not formally live together, Bob had no permanent address, worked near the mother’s home, visited daily, stored possessions there, and ate and showered there daily. In 1988, Kimberly and Joyce were removed from the mother’s home and began living with Kimberly’s paternal grandparents. In 1989, the Department of Social Services (department) filed petitions to begin adoption proceedings without the mother’s consent. Kimberly’s father and Bob did not contest. At the hearing, the mother testified that she believed Bob sexually abused her daughters; the grandmother testified that the girls demonstrated inappropriate sexual activity at home; and the girls’ therapist testified that she believed the abuse occurred. Following the hearing, the judge found that Kimberly and Joyce were victims of sexual abuse. The judge found that both girls feared being in Bob’s presence and, further, that the mother had a history of placing her own desire to continue a relationship with Bob above the needs of her children and did not protect them from the abuse. Based on those findings and the girls’ need for stable, nurturing care, the judge found that the department’s plans for Kimberly’s grandparents to adopt Kimberly and Joyce were in the girls’ best interests. The mother appealed, contending that the trial court’s findings regarding her parental unfitness were not supported by clear and convincing evidence. The case was transferred to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on its own motion.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lynch, J.)
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