D.C. Court of Appeals: Adoptions Qualify for SIJ

The holding is simple: adoptions are placements for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status purposes, says the DC Court of Appeals. I think in Florida we too often rely on the dependency system for SIJ where other, simpler options exist.

Under District law, “[a]ny person may petition the court for a decree of adoption.” 6 D.C.Code § 16–302 (2001). Consent to the adoption by a non-biological parent may be required from a biological parent, as it was in this case. D.C.Code § 16–304(b) (2010 Supp.). Significantly, D.C.Code § 16–312 sets forth the “legal effects” of an adoption. A final adoption decree “establishes the relationship of natural parent and natural child between adopter and adoptee for all purposes, including mutual rights of inheritance and succession as if adoptee were born to adopter.” D.C.Code § 16–312(a) (2001). Thus, under District law, the adoptive parent becomes a natural parent in the eyes of the law and, as such, the adopted child is entrusted to the care of theadoptive parent when the child is officially placed with the person that the court has named as an adoptive or natural parent. We conclude that within the meaning of the SIJS statute and the District’s adoption statute, an adopted child is “legally committedto, or placed under the custody of … an individual … appointed by a … juvenile [or family] court.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27(J) (i) (2009 Supp. II).

In re C.G.H., — A.3d —-, 2013 WL 4746773 (2013).

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