Adoption is a significant step for any family. Whether an individual or couple is looking to adopt a child or a step-parent is interested in adopting the child of their spouse, there are many factors to consider when it comes to adoption. That’s why even though it’s not a requirement, having a lawyer to help with the adoption process is a great asset.
What are Indiana’s Adoption Laws?
In the state of Indiana, there must be consent to the adoption for anyone under the age of 18. The birth mother can consent to the adoption any time after the birth, and as long as she is living, her consent is required by the law. The birth father is allowed to consent to the adoption at any point of the process.
There are also instances where a parent’s consent is not needed for adoption in Indiana. That includes:
- a parent is unfit to care for a child;
- the birth father of the child if the child was conceived by rape, incest, or sexual misconduct; and,
- a parent who has abandoned the child for at least six months before filing the adoption petition.
Who can Adopt a Child in Indiana?
In Indiana, both heterosexual and same-sex couples are allowed to adopt a child. Additionally, a person does not need to be married to adopt as the state does not have a marriage requirement. However, if a person is married, the couple would be required to adopt jointly. If a step-parent would like to adopt their spouse’s child, both birth parents have to consent to the adoption unless the other birth parent’s parental rights have been terminated.
What Are the Requirements for Adoption in Indiana?
Even before an adoption petition can be filed, prospective adoptive parents must complete the Resource and Adoptive Parent Training (RAPT). There are four parts of RAPT that are required for those interested in adoption in Indiana (the first three parts are only required for prospective foster parents). Those parts are:
- Introduction to DCS: this is an introduction to Indiana’s Department of Child Services. Those attending will learn about the licensing process and the resources available if they become an adoptive parent. This training usually takes three hours.
- Child Abuse and Neglect: this goes over the different types of abuse and neglect a child could experience and how to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. The course also goes over what parents should do if they suspect abuse or neglect. This training usually takes four hours.
- Attachment, Discipline & Effects of Caregiving on the Family: In this training, parents are taught about how a child’s developmental level will affect their understanding of the potential change of living with someone new. Parents will be taught strategies to help the child and promote an overall healthy well-being. This training usually takes three hours.
- Adoption: This final training for adoptive parents focuses on the Indiana Adoption Program and what common issues arise for adoptive parents, children and families. This training usually takes six hours.
After training is completed, the next step would be the Family Preparation Assessment, also known as a home study. In Indiana, that can be arranged with the local county’s Department of Child Services or a private agency that is contracted through the county. There must be written approval of this visit before the adoption process can go to the courts.
When it’s time to go to the courts, it’s best to have a lawyer who knows the state’s laws and knows what to expect. At HOLLINGSWORTH ROBERTS MEANS we have been in the courtroom helping adoptive parents finalize an adoption and know what is required to make an adoption happen. Our team can help you if you’re interested in adoption — call our offices today (888) 211-3888.