Adoption should be a joyful event, but seeking to adopt a child can sometimes be a daunting task.
Indiana law, in some cases, allows legal or biological parents to contest an adoption, but those who seek to adopt also have rights under state law.
How can parents contest an adoption? And if you are seeking to adopt, what can you do if your adoption is challenged?
A contested adoption is almost always a highly-charged, tense emotional situation.
An adoption is “contested” in Indiana when a legal or biological parent challenges the adoption, and the prospective adoptive parents respond by rejecting the challenge and moving forward with the adoption process.
In the state of Indiana, in any matter involving a child that comes before a court, without exception, the best interests of the child will be the court’s highest priority.
Prospective adoptive parents must either have the consent of the child’s legal or biological parent or parents prior to an adoption, or else the prospective parents must have other legal grounds that allow the adoption to proceed.
WHEN IS A BIOLOGICAL PARENT’S CONSENT NOT NEEDED FOR ADOPTION?
Indiana state law actually spells out twelve distinct circumstances – listed below – where a legal or biological parent’s consent to an adoption is not required.
A contested Indiana adoption will be allowed to move forward if the contesting parent is deemed unfit, has abandoned the child, or has failed to communicate with or support the child.
– To be more specific, consent for an adoption is not required from:
– a biological father or mother who has been deemed unfit by a court
– a biological father who has denied his paternity at any time
– a biological father or mother who abandoned the child for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the adoption petition
– a biological father or mother who, while the child was in someone else’s care and custody, failed for a year or more to communicate meaningfully or to offer financial support for the child
– a biological father who hasn’t established his paternity of an out-of-wedlock child
– a biological father of an out-of-wedlock child conceived through child molestation, rape, incest, or sexual misconduct with a minor
– a putative father whose consent is implied, or who established paternity after the filing of the adoption petition, or who did not register as a putative father
– a biological father or mother who has waived any right to consent or whose parental rights have been terminated by a court
– a parent declared mentally defective or incompetent by a court
– a guardian who has failed to consent but has no grounds to contest the adoption
Additionally, consent to adoption is not needed from a biological or legal parent if that parent has been convicted for one or more of the offenses listed here and the victim of the crime was the child’s other biological or legal parent: murder, voluntary manslaughter, or causing a suicide; any attempt to commit one of those crimes; or any crime in another state that is comparable to one of those crimes.
Finally, consent to adoption is not needed from a biological or legal parent if that parent has been convicted for one or more of the offenses listed here and the victim of the crime is another child of that parent: murder, voluntary manslaughter, or causing a suicide; child molestation, incest, rape, or any other sex crime; battery, neglect or abandonment.
If you are seeking to adopt, a denial of your petition can be a disappointing delay, but it is not the end of the process. An experienced Lake County adoption attorney can help you file an immediate appeal that will fix any mistakes or correct any misunderstandings on the initial petition for adoption.
WHEN CAN A PETITION TO ADOPT BE DENIED?
When you file an appeal, your attorney will explain to the court why the denial of your adoption petition was the wrong decision and why you should be approved to adopt.
This raises the question: On what grounds will a court deny a prospective adoptive parent’s petition for adoption?
An adoption petition in the state of Indiana might be denied for reasons including but not limited to:
– Failure to pass a background check for prospective adoptive parents
– Failure to prove that you have the financial means to support a child
– Failing to complete the mandatory training or the home visit
– Failing to have the birth mother’s consent or failing to demonstrate that her consent isn’t required
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BECOME AN ADOPTIVE PARENT IN INDIANA?
If your petition to adopt is denied, you’ll have only a limited amount of time to file your appeal.
An adoption attorney can explain the court’s decision, determine the filing deadline for an appeal, and put your effort to adopt back on track toward a successful outcome.
Listed here are the requirements under Indiana law to become an adoptive parent:
– You must pass several background checks including an FBI fingerprint check.
– You must have the financial means to care adequately for a child.
– You must have enough room in your residence for a new child.
– You must complete the required training.
– Your home must be visited and approved.
WHO MAY ADOPT A CHILD IN INDIANA?
Married, single, and divorced adults are all potentially eligible to adopt in Indiana.
A married individual may only adopt together with his or her spouse.
Unmarried partners cannot adopt together; in such a case, one partner will have to function as a single petitioner.
Provided there is room in the home, and provided that the financial means exist to support the child being adopted, it does not matter if the prospective parent already has other biological or adopted children.
Finally, prospective adoptive parents in Indiana should know that while some adoptions can be completed in about ninety days, if your adoption is contested, the entire process could end up taking six months or more.
A Lake County adoption attorney can answer all of your questions, prepare and file your adoption petition, and handle the legal side of the adoption process on your behalf.