It is in People Magazine today, so it must be official: Sandra Bullock is filing for divorce. Apparently she and her estranged husband Jesse James began adoption proceedings about four years ago, and just within the past few months brought their child home. It is unusual for a divorce proceeding to emerge in the midst of an adoption proceeding. Its probably happened before, but I am not aware of any cases in Minnesota. In part, this is because in Minnesota, adoption cases are strictly confidential.
I always think it is unfortunate when public figures have to go through public divorces. I suppose a public divorce goes with the territory. Of course, I know that any public figure is really a business enterprise–they have pubicists, press agents, wardrobe stylists–literaly dozens of people whose job is to run the business that is the public figure–in the case, Sandra Bullock. But, I also know that behind the layers of carefully crafted public persona there is a real human being who is experiencing fear, sadness, anxiety, depression, and sometimes embarassment. Of course, I do not think that Ms. Bullock has anything to be embarassed about.
So, how does the adoption fit into the scheme of things? The law could be different in California. But in Minnesota, its possible that now the adoption might not go through, if both parents are jointly petitioning for the adoption and one of them starts a divorce proceeding. Its hardly in the best interests of a child to allow him or her to be adopted by two parents who are divorcing. Minnesota does allow a single parent to adopt, and it is possible that a Minnesota court might allow one of the parties (in this case, Mr. James) to be dismissed from the proceeding and allow Ms. Bullock to adopt as a single parent. But, this would likely require Mr. James’s consent.
I doubt that child support will be an issue for either Ms. Bullock or Mr. James. But, for ordinary people, the issue of paying child support for an adopted child for the next 16 to 18 years could be a big issue. And, in Minnesota the courts are supposed to take into account the ability of a proposed adoptive parent to support the child he or she is adopting.