Indiana Appeals Court Affirms Adoption Ruling

While Indiana family law courts strive to make the adoption process and transition as seamless as possible for children and their families, inevitably, there are going to be bumps in the road.
boys.jpg
This is especially true when the adoption is in any way disputed or when the adoptive parent or parents have any kind of background (criminal, immoral, etc.) that could give the court pause.

A recent example of possible complications that can arise, even in intrafamily adoptions, was that of In re the adoption of I.B. and W.B. and B.B. v. B.C. & J.L. et al., out of Jasper County. The Indiana Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the adoption placement of three siblings with their maternal grandmother and her fiance of 13 years. However, it was not without significant legal wrangling.

Our Gary adoption attorneys recognize that intrafamily adoption is one way for relatives to ensure family ties are not completely severed, even if biological parents are deceased or unable to serve as adequate providers to the child or children.

In some ways, these cases are easier because courts may be more apt to grant permanent placement to individuals with whom children already have a bond – so long as the new caregivers can provide a loving and stable environment for the children.

Still, sometimes these situations can give rise to a greater degree of hostility and conflict. Old wounds may be dredged up, and it’s important to have an experienced lawyer to help carefully guide you through the process.

In this case, according to court records, mother and father had two young children together, plus mother had two older children from a different relationship.

When the youngest was born in the spring of 2011, he was born with numerous health problems related to premature birth caused by his mother’s drug use. The Department of Child Services became involved, and found the second-youngest to be malnourished. The other younger child suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, reportedly from being witness to repeated domestic violence episodes between mother and father. Both were methamphetamine users, and father had been caught in a revolving door of prison.

All four children were removed, initially in different foster homes, but later were all placed at the home of maternal grandmother. At one point, grandmother tested positive for marijuana and children were removed. However, she and her fiance adhered to the extensive requirements set by child services to return the children. They submitted to random drug tests – passing them all. They received extensive training to learn how to care for the baby’s special medical needs.

Since that time, the children reportedly thrived in their care.

When child services moved to terminate biological parents’ parental rights, maternal grandparents filed a petition to adopt all four children.

After parental rights were terminated, child services personnel testified the children were doing well, and stressed the importance of keeping them all together. They also attested to the fact that both maternal grandmother and fiance maintained regular therapy and service appointments for the boys (including the rigorous health needs of the baby), and providers indicated children were doing better than initially expected.

However, there was also evidence submitted regarding grandmother’s conviction for felony neglect back in 1997. At the time, she left her daughter (children’s mother) alone with her father, despite having knowledge the man sexually molested the girl. She ultimately received a suspended prison sentence, and was ordered to attend family counseling. She successfully completed probation and divorced her husband, the perpetrator.

The victim in that case (biological mother in the adoption case) did not object to her mother retaining custody of the boys.

Court granted the order of adoption.

Still, it wasn’t over yet. The children’s paternal grandparents appealed the order, alleging maternal grandmother was statutorily barred from adopting the children (because of the prior felony conviction), evidence did not support the placement and paternal grandparents were denied full consideration in the placement investigation.

Appellate court affirmed, finding the trial court had used proper discretion in weighing the facts of the place and determining adoption.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
In re the adoption of I.B. and W.B. and B.B. v. B.C. & J.L. et al., Oct. 28, 2014, Indiana Court of Appeals
More Blog Entries:
In re J.T. – Grandparent Visitation in Indiana a Long Shot, Sept. 18, 2014, Gary Adoption Lawyer Blog