The Basic Adoption Process in Indiana
Even when an adoption is uncontested, it is important to follow the statutory procedure so that the adoption is completed properly and that there are no errors and that, following the necessary hearing, your child is officially and legally yours. Working with one of the family law attorneys at Barrett McNagny can help ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible.
The Petition for Adoption
To begin the adoption process, you will want to contact a family law attorney to ensure that you are meeting all the particular statutory requirements for an adoption. When you contact an attorney, you should have or be prepared to provide the information necessary to file a Petition for Adoption, which is the following:
- The name, sex, race, age, and place of birth of the child;
- The new name of the child;
- Whether or not the child possesses real or personal property, and if so, the value and description of said property;
- The name, age, and place of residence of the adoptive parent(s), and if married, the place and date of their marriage;
- The name and place of residence of the parent(s), the guardian or nearest kin of the child (if applicable), the court or agency of which the child is a ward (if applicable), or the agency sponsoring the adoption (if applicable);
- The time during which the child lived in the home of the adoptive parent(s);
- Whether the adoptive parent(s) has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor relating to the health and safety of children along with the date and description of the conviction;
- Whether or not a current, ongoing child support order or medical support order is in effect for the child; and
- Any additional information that is considered relevant.
See IC 31-19-2-6.
Temporary Custody Pending Finalization
Except for a child who is under the supervision of the Department of Child Services, you may file a Motion for Temporary Custody at the time of or anytime after the filing of the petition. See IC 31-19-2-13. This motion, if granted, will give the person or persons seeking the adoption temporary legal custody of the child.
In addition to filing the Petition for Adoption, the adoptive parent(s) must either (1) obtain the written consents of specified individuals or (2) prove why the consent of those specified individuals is not necessary.
The adoptive parent(s) must obtain the consent of the following:
- Each living parent of a child born in wedlock;
- The mother of a child born out of wedlock and the father of the child whose paternity has been established;
- Each person, agency, or local office having lawful custody of the child;
- The court having jurisdiction of the custody of the child if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the child is not empowered to consent;
- The child to be adopted if the child is more than fourteen years old; and
- The spouse of the child to be adopted if the child is married.
See IC 31-19-9-1.
On the other hand, the required written consents may not be needed from the abovementioned individuals for a variety of reasons which are listed in the statutes. If your situation falls within one of these exceptions, you will need to file a motion to deem that individual’s consent unnecessary. See IC 31-19-9-8, IC 31-19-9-9, and IC 31-19-9-10. The consent process is important, as failing to obtain the consents can jeopardize the legality of the adoption even after a final order is issued.
Putative Father Registry Search
A putative father is a man who is alleged to be or claims to be the biological father of a child who is born out of wedlock. If the child is born out of wedlock, you will need to contact the Indiana State Department of Health and request that they run a search on the state’s putative father registry. See IC 31-19-5-1 to IC 31-19-5-25.
After you have filed your Petition for Adoption, you are required to provide notice to the following:
- A person whose consent is required;
- A putative father;
- A grandparent;
- A licensed child placing agency of which the child is a ward;
- The local office of the department of child services in the county in which the child in need of services proceeding was filed (if applicable); and
- The entity, facility, or individual of which the child is a ward if the child is a subject of an open or pending juvenile delinquency proceeding.
See IC 31-19-2.5-3.
During this process, you will also be required to obtain a home study report from a licensed child placing agency which will include the licensed child placing agency’s written report of the investigation and recommendation as to the advisability of the adoption. See IC 31-19-8-5.
Lastly, before the adoption can be completed, you will need to complete an Indiana Adoption Medical History Form and a Record of Adoption.
There are many steps in the adoption process, and all are important. Having an attorney help you through the process can make things go smoothly and give you the peace of mind that your adoption will be protected from any challenge at a later date. For questions regarding an adoption contact the members of Barrett McNagny's Family Law team.
About the Author:
Sadie L. Dillon-Baatz focuses her practice in the area of family law where she assist clients with dissolutions, custody issues and handles private, agency and foster adoptions. She is a certified Guardian Ad Litem. She can be reached at 260.423.8914 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.