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The Indiana Adoption Laws 

Adopting a child is a journey filled with hope, dreams, and aspirations for countless families. However, no two journeys are identical; thus, navigating the complexities of the Indiana adoption laws can often seem like an intricate dance, with each step shaped by various factors that can significantly influence the process. This variability underscores the importance of having a knowledgeable adoption attorney by your side. 

At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, our team of dedicated Indiana adoption lawyers recognizes the deeply personal and diverse nature of each adoption case. With a comprehensive understanding of the state’s adoption laws, we are committed to providing our clients with the personalized and skilled representation they need. Our goal is not just to navigate the legal intricacies on your behalf but to ensure that every step taken is efficient, compliant with the law, and most importantly, serves the best interest of the child at the heart of the adoption process. 

Whether you are just starting to consider adoption or are ready to take the next step, retaining the counsel of experienced Indiana family law attorneys who understand the Indiana adoption laws is crucial. Let us guide you through this journey with the expertise and empathy you deserve, making your dream of adding to your family a reality. To begin your path towards adoption, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Adoption Attorneys in Indiana

Overview of Indiana Adoption Laws 

Every adoption is unique. Therefore, the Indiana adoption laws that apply to your situation will vary, depending on the specific circumstances at hand. However, to provide you with a broad overview, this section will address some of the most widely applicable adoption laws and touch on major elements of the adoption process.  

Petitions for Adoption 

In Indiana, all adoptions begin with the filing of a petition for adoption. This is done by retaining the services of an Indiana adoption attorney, ideally one with experience drafting and filing such petitions. As outlined in Indiana Code 31-19-2-6, the petition for adoption must include the following information:  

  • Details about the child sought to be adopted: 
    • Name (if known) 
    • Sex, race, and age (if known, or if unknown, the approximate age) 
    • Place of birth 
  • The new name that shall be given to the child if a change of name is desired. 
  • Information regarding the child’s possessions: 
    • Whether or not the child possesses real or personal property 
      • If so, the value and full description of the property 
  • Information about the petitioner(s) for adoption: 
    • Name, age, and place of residence of the petitioner 
    • If married, the place and date of their marriage 
  • Details about the child’s family or guardian: 
    • The name and place of residence, if known, of the child’s parent(s) or, if the child is an orphan, the guardian or nearest kin if no guardian exists 
    • The court or agency of which the child is a ward, if applicable 
    • The agency sponsoring the adoption, if there is one 
  • How long the child has been living in the petitioner’s home for adoption. 
  • Criminal background of the petitioner: 
    • Whether the petitioner has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor relating to the health and safety of children, including the date and description of the conviction 
  • Information about child support or medical support orders: 
    • Whether or not a current, ongoing child support order or medical support order is in effect for the child 
  • Additional relevant information: 
    • Any additional information consistent with the purpose and provisions of the article that is considered relevant to the proceedings 

Furthermore, if there is a current, ongoing child support or medical support order in effect for the child, the following must be filed with the petition: 

  • A copy of the child support order or medical support order 
  • A statement regarding whether the child support order or medical support order is enforced by the prosecuting attorney through the Title IV-D child support program under IC 31-25-4. 

In addition to filing the petition to adopt, the petitioner(s) will also need to obtain written consent from all relevant individuals. Per Indiana Code 31-19-9-1, this includes each living parent of a child born in wedlock; the mother of a child born out of wedlock; the father of a child born out of wedlock whose paternity has been established; each person, agency or local office that has lawful custody of the child; the court having jurisdiction of the custody of the child; and/or the child, if they’re over the age of 14.  

Under certain circumstances, as provided by Indiana Code 31-19-9-8, the petitioner may elect to work with an adoption attorney in Indiana in an attempt to prove that the consent of one or more of these individuals or entities is not necessary. Most often, this type of action is taken when the child’s parent(s) are adjudged to have abandoned or deserted them for at least six months preceding the date of filing the petition for adoption. That said, consent may also not be required if any of the following situations apply:  

  • The child has been in the custody of another person for a period of one year and the parent fails to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so or knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree 
  • The biological father of a child born out of wedlock has not established paternity 
  • The child was conceived out of wedlock as a result of rape, child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor or incest by the biological father  
  • The parent’s parent-child relationship has been legally terminated 
  • The parent has been judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective, if the court dispenses with the parent’s consent to adoption 

Notice of Adoption 

Once the petition for adoption has been filed, the petitioner(s) will then need to provide a notice of the adoption to certain individuals. Per Indiana Code 31-19-2.5-3, this includes:  

  • any person whose consent is required for the adoption 
  • the putative father 
  • the grandparents 
  • the licensing child placing agency of which the child is a ward, if applicable 
  • the local DCS office in the county in which the child in need of services proceeding was filed, if applicable 
  • the entity/facility/individual of which the child is a ward, if the child is subject of an open or pending juvenile delinquency proceeding 

Home Study and Background Check 

In compliance with the Indiana adoption laws in Indiana Code 31-19-8-1, a petition for adoption in Indiana may only be granted once the court has heard the evidence, and a period of supervision has been completed. As part of this period of supervision, a licensed child placing agency or local office, shall submit to the court a written report (also known as a “home study,”) that includes details on the former environment and antecedents of the child; the fitness of the child for adoption; and the suitability of the proposed home for the child. In addition, the report must be accompanied by a criminal history check, as mandated by Indiana Code 31-19-2-7.5. 

In cases involving stepparent adoption or grandparent adoption in Indiana, courts may waive both the period of supervision and the home study. However, as is made clear by Indiana Code 31-19-8-2, a criminal history check will still need to be conducted and provided to the court for the adoption petition to be granted.  

Record of Adoption 

After a petition for adoption has been granted by an Indiana court, the clerk of that court will proceed to prepare a Record of Adoption. This record will include all facts necessary to locate and identify the certificate of birth of the individual adopted and establish a new birth certificate for them. It will also include the court’s official notice of adoption, including identification of the court action and proceedings. Per Indiana Code 31-19-12-2, the completion of this record is the final step required for the issuance of a certification of final adoption by the court. 

Indiana Laws on Contesting an Adoption 

When a person would like to withdraw their consent to adoption, or an eligible person entitled to notice of adoption would like to contest the adoption, certain legal avenues mut be pursued in a timely and legally compliant manner. For instance, the Indiana adoption laws require that a person seeking to withdraw their consent to adoption give notice to all parties to the adoption and all persons whose consent is required. On top of that, as is made clear by Indiana Code 31-19-10-3, a person’s consent to adoption may only be withdrawn within 15 days of signing the consent to adoption. Furthermore, in order for their consent to be withdrawn, the court must find that, after notice and opportunity to be heard is afforded to the petitioner for adoption, the person seeking the withdrawal is acting in the best interest of the person sought to be adopted; AND the court orders the withdrawal. Once the adoption decree has been entered by the court, a consent to adoption may not be withdrawn.  

When a person that is entitled to notice under Indiana Code 31-19-4 or Indiana Code 31-19-4.5 would like to contest an adoption, they must do so by filing a motion in the court with jurisdiction over the petition for adoption. When the court is in receipt of such motion, a hearing shall be set for the matter and expedited. Once the hearing is set, the Indiana adoption laws allow for the court to take several actions. 

First, the court may dismiss the petition to contest the adoption on procedural grounds or under Indiana Code 31-19-10-1.2(g), if they find that the person who filed the motion fails to do any of the following:  

  • Diligently prosecute the motion 
  • Comply with procedural rules and statutes governing contested adoptions 
  • Obey and order of the court 
  • Appear, after proper notice, at a hearing relating to the motion to contest the adoption 

Second, upon hearing evidence at the hearing, the court may dismiss the petition for adoption or deny the motion to contest the adoption. In order to dismiss the petition for adoption, Indiana Code 31-19-10-6 states that the court must find that (a) the person who filed the motion to contest the adoption has established that it is in the best interest of the child that the motion to contest the adoption be granted; or (b) required consent to adoption has not been obtained in writing or has not been implied under Indiana Code 31-19-9. In addition, a court may also permit a necessary consent to adoption be withdrawn, thus allowing for the dismissal of the petition for adoption.   

Further Questions on the Indiana Adoption Laws? 

As we’ve explored, the journey of adoption is as unique as the families embarking on it, with Indiana adoption laws applying differently in each case. This variability highlights the necessity of personalized legal guidance. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we understand that your adoption process is more than just a series of legal steps; it’s a deeply personal journey towards expanding your family. Our experienced Indianapolis adoption lawyers are here to ensure that your path through the complexities of Indiana’s legal system is navigated with care, precision, and the utmost respect for your family’s unique needs.  

Remember, when facing adoption-related legal matters, the counsel of knowledgeable attorneys is not just helpful—it’s essential. Let us be your guide and advocate, ensuring that your adoption process is as smooth and joyful as the outcome you envision. Contact us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Article Name
Understanding the Indiana Adoption Laws
This post addresses the Indiana Adoption Laws, including petitions for adoption; consent for adoption; notice for adoption; contesting an adoption; etc.
Publisher Name
Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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