Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Miller

Court of Appeals of Michigan

January 9, 2018

In re Miller Minors.

         Jackson Circuit Court Family Division LC No. 16-005854-NB; 16-005855-NB

          Before: O'Connell, P.J., and Beckering and Stephens, JJ.

          O'CONNELL, P.J.

         Petitioner, Adoption Associates, a child placement agency, appeals by leave granted the trial court's order denying petitions to terminate parental rights concerning children surrendered under the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law, MCL 712.1 et seq. The trial court concluded that the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law only applied to the mother of the surrendered children but not to the legal father. We reverse.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In August 2016, a woman gave birth to twins. She surrendered the twins to the hospital the day after they were born under the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law. The surrendering mother did not provide her address or marital status, she gave no other indication that she was married, and she declined to identify the father. Adoption Associates took custody of the children and placed them with prospective adoptive parents. In September 2016, the adoption agency filed petitions to terminate the parental rights of the surrendering parent and the nonsurrendering parent.

         Also in September 2016, Adoption Associates requested the children's birth certificates for purposes of the adoption. In October 2016, the Vital Records Office notified the agency that it could not provide the birth certificates because of an "unresolved paternity issue." After the Vital Records Office learned that the mother was married, although it is not clear how, it produced birth certificates in December 2016 listing the mother's husband as the father.[1]

         This development raised the issue whether the adoption agency had a duty to notify the man listed as the father on the birth certificates about the surrender of the children. The adoption agency protested that it did not. In a written order, the trial court concluded that the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law only applied to the mother in this case, but not the legal father identified on the birth certificates.

         II. ANALYSIS

         This case concerns the intersection of the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law with the presumption of legitimacy. We review questions of statutory interpretation de novo. Parks v Parks, 304 Mich.App. 232, 237; 850 N.W.2d 595 (2014). The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to effectuate the Legislature's intent. Sinicropi v Mazurek, 273 Mich.App. 149, 156; 729 N.W.2d 256 (2006). We do so by applying the statute as written if it is unambiguous. Parks, 304 Mich.App. at 237-238.

         This Court reads the statute as a whole and generally reads statutes covering the same subject matter together. Sinicropi, 273 Mich.App. at 157. However, the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law provides that neither "a provision in another chapter of this act" nor the Child Custody Act, MCL 722.21 et seq., apply to the Safe Delivery of Newborns Law unless specifically stated. MCL 712.2(3).

         A. SAFE DELIVERY OF NEWBORNS LAW

         The Safe Delivery of Newborns Law "encourage[s] parents of unwanted newborns to deliver them to emergency service providers instead of abandoning them[.]" People v Schaub, 254 Mich.App. 110, 115 n 1; 656 N.W.2d 824 (2002). The statute permits a parent to surrender a child to an emergency service provider within 72 hours of the child's birth. MCL 712.1(2)(k); MCL 712.3(1). When the emergency service provider takes temporary custody of the child, the emergency service provider must reasonably try to inform the parent that surrendering the child begins the adoption process and that the parent has 28 days to petition for custody of the child. MCL 712.3(1)(b) and (c). The emergency service provider must furnish the parent with written notice about the legal custody process. MCL 712.3(1)(d). The emergency service provider should also try to inform the parent that, before the child can be adopted, "the state is required to make a reasonable attempt to identify the other parent, and then ask the parent to identify the other parent." MCL 712.3(2)(e). Finally, the emergency service provider must take the newborn to a hospital, if the child was not born in the hospital, and the hospital must take temporary protective custody of the child. MCL 712.5(1). The hospital then notifies a child placement agency about the surrender, and the child placement agency has various obligations, including making "reasonable efforts to identify, locate, and provide notice of the surrender of the newborn to the nonsurrendering parent" within 28 days, which may require "publication in a newspaper of general circulation . . . ." MCL 712.7(f).

         Either the surrendering parent or the nonsurrendering parent may file a petition to gain custody of the child within 28 days of surrender and published notice of surrender, respectively. MCL 712.10(1). If neither the surrendering parent nor the nonsurrendering parent files a petition for custody within 28 days of surrender or notice of surrender, the child placement agency must immediately file a petition with the court to terminate the rights of the surrendering parent and the nonsurrendering parent. MCL 712.17(2) and (3). The agency "shall present evidence that demonstrates that the surrendering parent released the newborn and that demonstrates the efforts made by the child placing agency to identify, locate, and provide notice to the nonsurrendering parent." MCL 712.17(4). If the agency meets its burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, the trial "court shall enter an order terminating parental rights of the surrendering parent and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.