All fifty states have established their own adoption laws and procedures. Those laws and procedures can vary significantly from one state to another. In the state of Indiana, those who are seeking to adopt a child will want to work with an adoption attorney who routinely deals with Indiana’s adoption laws and policies.

Adoption, to be precise, is the legal process where an adult individual or couple officially and legally assume the full parenting responsibilities for a child, and the child’s biological or legal parent or parents are permanently relieved of those responsibilities.

If you are seeking to adopt, you must understand that adoption is permanent. Both single individuals and married couples may adopt in Indiana, including same-sex couples. Individuals or couples in Indiana who are interested in adoption – as well as expectant mothers with their own questions about adoption – should seek legal advice directly from an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.

When a child is born in Indiana, an original birth certificate is issued. The birth certificate includes the date of birth, the time of birth, the names of the parent or parents, and sometimes additional information such as the name of the hospital where the child was born. Birth parents are given – or need to request – this original document. An “amended” birth certificate is the new birth certificate that is issued for an adopted child when an adoption is finalized. Amended birth certificates may also be issued for other reasons.

WHAT DATA IS INCLUDED ON AN AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE?

An amended birth certificate can include any or all of the information on the original birth certificate, but it replaces the birth parents’ names with the names of the adoptive parents – as if they are the biological parents – and the child’s name at birth is replaced with the child’s new name if the child’s name is being changed.

The amended birth certificate is given to the adoptive parents. It is the document that adoptees will use throughout their lives to enroll in schools and to obtain drivers’ licenses, passports, and other documents. Indiana’s amended birth certificates look like the originals and do not indicate that the child has been adopted.

In Indiana, for international adoptions as well for adoptions of children born in the U.S., the parents should file the adoption papers in their local jurisdiction with the help of an adoption lawyer. The paperwork will be handled by a local court which will issue a certificate of adoption.

When the adoption is final and the certificate of adoption is issued, it will be forwarded by the court to the Indiana State Department of Health, where the certificate of adoption will be used to create an amended Indiana birth certificate.

WHAT DOES SENATE BILL 91 PROVIDE?

Information about the biological parents will be removed from the amended birth certificate, and new information regarding the adoptive parents will officially replace the original records. In 2016, Governor Mike Pence signed Senate Bill 91 into law, making Indiana the fourteenth state to give most adult adoptees access to their original birth certificate and adoption records. That law will become effective on July 1, 2018.

The current law already gives adults who were adopted in Indiana after 1994 complete access to their adoption and birth records, but those who were adopted in the state between 1941 and 1993 (Indiana’s “closed records” era) have until now been compelled to pursue a costly and burdensome process if they want to obtain their original birth certificate and adoption file information.

Indiana issues both short-form and long-form birth certificates. The short-form version is an 8.5 by 5.5-inch document that provides only the name of the child, the name of the parent or parents, the gender of the child, and the date and place of birth. The long-form version is a much more detailed birth record. In the past, the state of Indiana did not indicate the child’s gender on the short-form birth certificate, but that is no longer the case.

Adoption can be one of the most special events in a family’s life, but a successful adoption requires careful consideration of every detail at every stage of the process, which means that prospective adoptive parents should have the advice and services of an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.

Whether you are adopting a child born in the U.S. or another country, or if you want to adopt a stepchild or a child who is a relative, an Indiana adoption lawyer can address your questions and concerns, protect your family’s legal rights, guide you through the legal process, and make certain that you are pleased with the conditions and terms of the adoption.

ARE THERE OTHER REASONS FOR AMENDING BIRTH CERTIFICATES?

Adoption, of course, is not the only reason why someone may want or need to obtain an amended birth certificate in Indiana. You can change the gender on your birth certificate – or any other information on the birth certificate – by requesting and obtaining a court order with the assistance of an Indiana family law attorney.

To change the gender on your birth certificate, you must:

  • present papers that document your sex-change surgery to a court in the county where you now reside
  • request and obtain a court order that instructs the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to change the gender designation on your birth certificate
  • send a copy of the order to the ISDH with an $18.00 fee and a copy of a photo ID with your current address

To request and obtain a legal name change in Indiana, you must submit a petition to the court with the help of an Indiana family law attorney, and you must place a notice in a newspaper for at least three weeks and at least thirty days before the hearing on your petition.

Inmates currently confined by the Indiana Department of Corrections cannot have their names changed while in custody. If you have a felony conviction in the last ten years, there will be additional requirements before your name can be changed legally and your birth certificate can be amended.

Adoptions in Indiana require a number of legal steps. In almost all Indiana adoptions, adoptive parents must file a petition for adoption, obtain consents from the biological parents if possible, participate in an extensive “home study,” and more.

To make it even more complicated, the procedures may vary from one case to another depending on the details of the adoption, so for any Indiana individual or couple seeking to adopt, the advice and services of an experienced Indiana family law attorney are essential.