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Indiana Adoption Lawyers
Adoption Lawyers Serving Madison County and Hamilton County
Whether you have children or are ready to become a parent for the first time, you may consider adoption. Parents across Indiana choose adoption for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it the best or only way to expand your family. Or, you may recognize that you can provide a loving, stable, and safe home for a child who needs one. Whatever your reasons, you should go into the process with accurate information and a legal representative.
Our adoption lawyers at GDS Law Group are happy to help you grow your family or, as is often the case, make your family official through stepparent adoption. To schedule a free consultation of your case with one of our experienced family lawyers, call (765) 313-7092 today, or reach out through the online form.
Indiana Adoption Laws
There are many laws regarding adoption in Indiana, which you can find in Title 31 of the Indiana Code. Adoption requirements in Indiana are extensive, though not necessarily complicated.
To be an adoptive parent, you:
- May be single, married, or divorced
- May have biological children, previously adopted children, or no children yet
- Must be financially able to add a child to your family
- Must have room to add a child to your household
- Must be able to pass a fingerprint and background check
- Must fulfill certain training requirements
In order to adopt, the child must be eligible for adoption. As a prospective adoptive parent, you must gain consent from the child’s parents, or the circumstances must fall into an exception when consent is not needed. In some cases, the child is a ward of the state, and their parents’ parental rights were previously terminated. When parental rights are terminated, you do not need consent.
There are several circumstances under which parental consent is not necessary for adoption, though parental rights are not yet terminated – including when a child has been abandoned for a certain period of time, or a parent is found to be unfit or incompetent. Additionally, there are circumstances in which you may need the child’s mother’s consent, but not the father’s consent, including if the child was conceived through a sexual assault or paternity is not established.
If you lived in Anderson, IN and are interested in adopting a child, we highly recommend talking with an adoption attorney in Indiana before getting started. At GDS Law Group, we will review your eligibility and advise you of the state’s other adoption requirements.
Types of Adoption
At GDS Law Group, we are prepared to assist you in any form of adoption, including:
Private adoptions are those that do not go through an agency. These include stepparent adoptions, relative/kinship adoptions, foster parent adoptions, and same-sex partner adoptions. If you wish to adopt a relative, your spouse or partner’s child, or a foster child, you should speak with our private adoption lawyers at GDS Law Group.
Instead of going through a private adoption with the assistance of a private adoption attorney, you may choose to adopt a child through an agency. You can work with a public agency for local adoption, though working with an agency is more common and often necessary for interstate or international adoptions.
International adoptions occur when you adopt a child who was born and resides in another country. This can be a difficult process, and you should work with an experienced international adoption attorney. You will need a legal advocate who understands U.S. and Indiana adoption laws, as well as how to adhere to the foreign nation’s adoption laws.
If you wish to adopt your spouse’s child from a previous relationship, speak with an attorney about Indiana’s adoption laws for stepparents. The first step your lawyer will take is determining whether or not you need the child’s other parent’s consent. You may not need the mother or father’s consent if:
- The non-custodial parent abandoned the child for more than six months
- The non-custodial parent has failed to support the child for more than one year
- The non-custodial parent has failed to significantly communicate with the child for more than one year
- The non-custodial parent is unfit
- The non-custodial parent’s parental rights have been terminated by the court
When you file a petition to adopt a stepchild, the other, non-custodial parent must be notified. If you do not have that parent’s consent, then this gives them the opportunity to contest the adoption. During a contested hearing, you would need to prove that the adoption can proceed without the parent’s consent due to one of the legal exceptions listed above, and that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
The Adoption Process in Indiana
Before you decide on adoption as a way to expand your family, you should consider the entire process. At GDS Law Group, we will provide an overview of the Indiana adoption process, which includes:
Filing an Adoption Application
If you choose to go through an agency adoption, the application process will differ depending on which agency you choose to work with.
Many private and public agencies require prospective adoptive parents to attend educational workshops or adoption classes. These training sessions often cover the unique challenges adoptive parents and children face. If you wish to be approved through the Indiana Adoption Program, you are required to complete 26 hours of adoption preparation training.
Completing the Family Preparation Assessment (Home Study)
In Indiana, you must go through a home study and demonstrate that you are prepared to bring an adoptive child into your home and meet the possible challenges associated with adoptive children. Home study requirements differ among agencies, so you should speak with our adoption lawyers and the agency to be sure you understand the expectations and requirements. Additionally, you must pay a home study fee.
Waiting to be Matched With a Child
Unless you have already connected with a child you wish to adopt, you must wait while the agency searches for the right child for you and your home. This can take months or years. Once an agency identifies a child that fits your circumstances, you should learn as much as you can about the child and set up a time to meet them. Then, you can agree to the child’s placement in your home.
Understanding the Child’s Biological Parents’ Rights
When you agree to have a child placed in your home, you need to be aware of that child’s biological parents’ rights. Have the mother and father’s parental rights been terminated? If not, there is a chance the child could be returned to their parents. Or, are the parents willing to give consent to the adoption?
Placement and Going Through Monitored Custody
Once a child is placed in your home, you must go through a period in which the agency and court monitor your legal and physical custody of the child. A social worker will visit to see how the child is adjusting. At the end of the monitoring period, the social worker may recommend that the court approve the adoption.
Filing the Adoption Petition
Adoption is a legal process. You must file a petition with the court asking a judge to approve the adoption. If you have gone through the process without an attorney so far, we recommend talking with our adoption lawyers to handle the legal process on your family’s behalf.
Attending the Final Adoption Hearing
In many circumstances, a final adoption hearing can take place within one year of a child being placed in your home. Finalization requires that all paperwork is correctly filled, and the biological parents’ rights have been terminated or you have obtained consent.
Talk With Our Adoption Lawyers Today
Whether you are fully prepared to go through the adoption process, or you are gathering more information before deciding, our Anderson, IN attorneys at GDS Law Group are happy to help. Give us a call at (765) 313-7092, or contact us through our online form to schedule a free consultation of your case.