By The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A bill that would let people adopt a younger brother, sister, uncle or aunt has been approved by the Massachusetts Senate.

Currently, Massachusetts is one of only two states that prohibits adoption by close relatives.

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Supporters of the legislation say it would let families stay together and ensure a stable home environment — a necessary component for development as well as physical and emotional health.

State Sen. Joan Lovely, a Salem Democrat and bill sponsor, said it will better support residents across Massachusetts who love and care for another.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of our vulnerable youth without parents, making familial relationships and bonds more important than ever,” she said in a written statement.

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The bill would let adult siblings adopt their younger siblings, aunts and uncles with the permission of county probate courts, sparing youth the additional trauma of family separation, Lovely said.

“Our children deserve to be cared for by the people who know and love them, and this bill helps make that a reality,” she added.

The bill now moves on to the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

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