Adoption

Can An Adoption Be Reversed?

Each year, over 100,000 children are adopted in the United States. Most adoptions are joyous, and most adopted children fit right in and immediately become a part of their adopted family.

Adoptions are supposed to be permanent, and usually, they are, but what happens if a biological parent surfaces and claims parental rights? Or what if a family should decide that an adoption just isn’t “working out?” How can an adoption lawyer help?

Can an adoption be “reversed?” If so, how, and under what circumstances? If you have adopted a child or if you’re considering adoption, you may need to know. You’ll find some answers below.

WHAT IS AN ADOPTION DISRUPTION?

Adoptions may be reversed in several ways. The term “disruption” describes an adoption reversal that happens after the child is placed in an adoptive home but before the adoption is legally finalized.

Disruption can happen because the adoptive parents have chosen not to go through with the adoption, because they have discovered negative information about the child’s physical or mental health, or because they have decided that they are simply not ready to be parents.

WHAT IS AN ADOPTION DISSOLUTION?

A “dissolution” describes an adoption reversal that happens after an adoption has been legally finalized.

It’s a heartbreaking reality, and it happens more often than you might think; sometimes, however, adoptive parents regret their decision, and they take legal action to reverse an adoption.

Writer Joyce Maynard, for instance, explained on her blog that she gave up her two daughters, adopted from Ethiopia in 2010, because she was “not able to give them what they needed.”

FOR WHAT REASONS ARE ADOPTIONS DISRUPTED OR DISSOLVED?

From the outside, adoption reversal may seem unfair and even selfish, but the reality of a reverse adoption is anguish and heartache for everyone involved.

One former adoptive mother explained to NBC’s Today show, “That kid broke furniture and parts of our house for sport. She also did things like running directly into traffic or screaming that she was being kidnapped in public places. Not every family can handle that level of drama.”

A 2010 study conducted by the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County, Minnesota, found that for children older than three, reversal happens in ten to sixteen percent of adoptions, and for teens, the reversal rate may be as high as one in four adoptions.

Seattle adoption counselor Zia Freeman explains that adoption reversal “rarely occurs with infants. But if you’re talking about older children … it’s significantly higher because of the complexities of parenting a child who already has life experiences and certain behaviors.”

WHAT DO COURTS REQUIRE TO HAVE AN ADOPTION REVERSED?

When adoptive parents want to reverse an adoption, a court will usually require those parents to show that a reversal is in the child’s best interests. For example, the relationship between the adoptive parents and the child may be so damaged that neither party any longer benefits from it.

While the best interests of a child are a high priority for the courts in adoption cases, there is no tolerance for fraud or for the failure to disclose. An adoption can be reversed in Indiana if a court finds that fraud was involved – that the parents were misled or denied necessary information.

An Indiana court reversed an adoption, for example, when the Indiana Department of Child Services failed to disclose the child’s condition to the adoptive parents. The courts will not, however, permit adoption reversals simply because adoptive parents are tired of being parents.

CAN THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS REVERSE AN ADOPTION?

When birth parents want to reverse their child’s adoption and regain parental rights, the consent of the adoptive parents is required.

When birth parents consent to an adoption in Indiana, they have thirty days to reconsider and withdraw their consent.

However, under very narrow circumstances, consent may be revoked beyond thirty days. For example, if consent was given as a result of duress or fraud, a court may allow the withdrawal of consent.

When an adoption is reversed, the child’s birth certificate will be changed back to the way it originally read.

WHAT IS A COURT’S TOP PRIORITY IN AN ADOPTION CASE?

In any legal matter that involves adoption in the state of Indiana, the courts are obligated to make the “best interests of the child” one of the top priorities. And as mentioned previously, any fraud or failure to disclose in an adoption case will not be tolerated by Indiana courts.

If you are seeking to adopt a child, to place a child for adoption, or to reverse an adoption, whether you are a birth parent, an adoptive parent, or a prospective adoptive parent, before you take any other action, speak first to an experienced Lake County adoption attorney.

If you are seeking to adopt, you must understand that adoption is supposed to be permanent. Make certain that adoption is the right decision for you and your family. If you must dissolve an adoption, it can be complicated, and not just legally but emotionally as well.

WHO MAY ADOPT IN INDIANA?

Single adults and married couples, including same-sex couples, are allowed to adopt in Indiana.

Individuals or couples in Indiana who want to become adoptive parents and expectant mothers who have questions regarding adoption should obtain sound legal advice directly from an experienced Indiana family law attorney.

Adoption can be a special event in a family’s life, but a successful adoption requires careful consideration of every detail at every stage of the process.

HOW CAN A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?

Whether you are adopting a child born in the U.S. or in another country, or if you want to adopt a stepchild or a child who is a relative, an experienced Lake County adoption attorney can protect your family’s rights, answer your questions, and guide you through the legal process of adoption.

Make certain that you are comfortable with the conditions and terms of an adoption, and speak up if you aren’t. You want to do everything possible to ensure that you don’t have to return to the adoption court to seek a dissolution of the adoption.

WHAT DOES INDIANA REQUIRE OF PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS?

An adoption in Indiana is accomplished in several stages. In nearly all adoptions in this state, the prospective adoptive parents must submit a petition for adoption, acquire the consent of the biological parents if possible, and take part in an extensive “home study.”

What makes adoption even more complicated in Indiana is that the legal procedures are not the same in every case but depend on the details of the adoption.

For any person or couple seeking to adopt in Indiana, the advice and services of an experienced family law attorney are indispensable.

What you’ve read here is a general introduction to adoption and adoption reversal, but you’ll need a family lawyer to explain how Indiana’s adoption laws will apply to your own situation.

Get that advice before you begin the adoption process or place your child for adoption. Then, with your attorney’s help, you’ll be prepared for any difficulty that may arise during the adoption process.

Can An Adoption Be Challenged?

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? Can an adoption law firm help?

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.

What Are Amended Birth Certificates?

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 a Lake County 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 a skilled 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 a top 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.

Is One Senator Blocking Foster Care Reform?

Our Indiana adoption lawyers have learned that as 2016 finally and mercifully comes to an end, the 114th Congress, which had been for all practical purposes inactive prior to the November elections, finally started passing some important measures. A billion dollars to combat the opioid addiction epidemic won the approval of both parties. Cancer research and the National Institutes of Health received some badly-needed federal funds, and coal miners obtained some additional healthcare coverage. One group, however, was “left behind” once again: children who are at risk. Senators didn’t even get to vote on a proposal aimed at a complete reform of the nation’s foster care system.

Foster care in the United States formally began in 1853 when Charles Loring Brace, a pastor and the director of the New York Children’s Aid Society, was concerned about the disturbing number of immigrant children sleeping in the streets of New York City. He advertised for and found families who were willing to provide homes for these children. As a result of Brace’s work, state governments became involved in foster home placements and helping foster parents with their expenses.

Today, according to the New York-based nonprofit group Children’s Rights, more than 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States. On average, kids remain in the system for two years, and but seven percent remain in foster care for five years or longer. In 2014, more than 22,000 new adults “aged out” of foster care without permanent families – increasing their chances of homelessness, unemployment, addiction, or incarceration as adults.

WHY WAS FOSTER CARE REFORM BLOCKED IN THE SENATE?

A comprehensive reform bill, the Families First Prevention Services Act, moved easily through the House of Representatives, where it passed unanimously. However, the Senate was allowed no opportunity to vote on the proposal. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina opposed the legislation. Attempts to attach the bill to other pieces of legislation were rejected at Senator Burr’s request by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

At the last minute, Senator Burr acted to kill the foster care reforms because of opposition from the Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) of North Carolina. The legislative proposal is designed to help keep families together and keep children from ending up in foster homes, which would mean fewer children in the group homes operated by BCH, which receives $4,500 per month per child for each child in their care.

With operations in every North Carolina county, BCH holds $45 million in assets, according to tax filings. A 2013 tax return shows that BCH President Michael Blackwell was paid about $230,000 that year in salary and other compensation. Reducing the number of children in foster care isn’t the only provision of the Families First Prevention Services Act. The proposal would require more training and scrutiny of prospective group home parents. After one BCH “house mom” was charged with smoking pot with foster kids and sleeping with a teenage boy in her care in 2015, BCH officials said, “the safety of the children we serve is always our first priority.”

WHO CAN BECOME A FOSTER PARENT?

Those who are seeking to become foster parents in the state of Indiana are carefully scrutinized and must attend pre-service training sessions. Indiana foster parents must be at least 21 years old and licensed by the Department of Child Services. An additional fifteen hours of training is required each year to retain the license. The requirements for foster parent licensure in Indiana include:

• Passing a criminal history, fingerprinting, and a background check
• Owning or renting a home that meets basic physical safety standards
• Financial stability
• Medical statements from a doctor for all household members
• Successful completion of training requirements including first aid and CPR training
• Home visits from a Department of Child Services Regional Licensing Specialist
• Completing all necessary forms and documents
• Personal references

Prospective foster parents in this state can have many of their questions answered by an experienced Indiana family law attorney. When a biological parent is no longer in a child’s life, those who are interested in the guardianship or adoption of a minor child – whether they are step-parents, grandparents, or foster parents – will need a family lawyer’s advice and services. Most of the people seeking to become guardians or adoptive parents will face few if any legal barriers in Indiana, but every situation is different. In most cases, an Indiana family law attorney can handle a guardianship or adoption smoothly and expeditiously.

From a political angle, what is so exceptional about Senator Burr’s opposition to the Families First Prevention Services Act is that it’s directed against the most senior and most powerful senator in his own party, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a forty-year veteran of the Senate. Senator Hatch said that he still hoped to move the bill through the Senate before the end of 2016. “I can’t imagine anybody voting against it,” Hatch told the Huffington Post.

Currently, federal funding is available for group homes and other foster care settings only after children are removed from their homes – but not for preventing abuse or neglect in the first place. The Family First Prevention Services Act would let the states use federal foster care funds for mental health services, in-home parenting programs, and substance abuse treatment programs for parents struggling with addiction.

WHAT STATES HAVE THE MOST CHILDREN ENTERING FOSTER CARE?

Supporters of the legislation point to substance abuse as a leading reason for the rising numbers of children entering the foster care system. The Associated Press recently reported that the number of children in foster care has been climbing steadily in recent years and that five states account for nearly two-thirds of the recent increase. Indiana is one of those five states. What Indiana, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota have in common is rising numbers of parents involved with substance abuse.

In a lengthy defense of his position posted to the Independent Journal Review website, Senator Burr insists that the Families First Prevention Services Act “could have serious unintended consequences for foster children across the country, especially when it comes to keeping brothers and sisters together,” and that the proposal may “inflict even more harm on children who have already experienced a tragic loss.”

Where does the foster care system in the United States go from here? If the numbers of children going into the system are rising while the available funds are declining, foster care is hurtling toward a crisis. Will the new Congress act to avert a foster care crisis? As 2017 begins, there’s simply no way to know, but foster parents and everyone who works with children at risk will be watching the new Congress closely.