General Information About Adoption
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What is adoption?
Who can adopt?
Who can be adopted?
Important factors in deciding who can adopt the child
Rights of the biological parents
What are the steps to take to adopt a child?
What if I am married?
What is adoption?
Adoption is a court procedure by which an adult legally becomes the parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. Adoption creates a parent-child relationship recognized for all purposes -- including child support obligations, inheritance rights and custody.
The biological parents' legal relationship to the child is terminated, unless a legal contract allows the biological parents to keep or share some rights, or the adoption is a step-parent adoption, in which case only the parent without custody loses parental rights.
Any resident of Indiana wishing to adopt a person may file a petition for adoption. You have to show sufficient ability to raise the child and provide suitable support and education. You do not have to be a wealthy, married, under 40, well-educated person in order to adopt. The most important thing is that you are willing to make a commitment and provide a child with a family.
It is possible to adopt children under eighteen (minors) as well as adults. You can adopt someone who is related to you, or someone who is not related to you.
The biggest factor in any adoption proceeding is the best interest of the child. Blood relationship is an important factor in deciding which set of competing petitioners will be entitled to adopt but it is not controlling. When the interests of the natural parents or of the adoption agency conflict with the interests of the child, the child's interests must win.
The biological parents will not have any legal duties or rights with respect to the child after the adoption is finalized. The adoptive parents become the actual, legal parents of the child. That means that they will be fully responsible for the child's health, safety, education and development.
- Educate yourself about adoption. Get a book at a local library, search the Web or talk to a friend who adopted a child or knows someone who did.
- Decide what kind of adoption you want to pursue. You may wish to adopt a child who is related to you, a child from another country, or a ward of the state.
- Hire an attorney. It is important to have an attorney to represent you in the adoption process.
- Home study. Everyone who wishes to adopt has to complete a Family Preparation Assessment program (a home study). A home study is an assessment of your family situation and your fitness as prospective adoptive parents. The county Office of Family and Children will decide whether to recommend you as prospective adoptive parents.
- Obtaining consents. The consent of the child's mother, if she is living, is required by law. If paternity is established, the child's father also has to give his consent or sign a paternity affidavit. In some cases the consent of the adoption agency is required. Your attorney should make sure all necessary consents are obtained and the child is legally free for adoption.
- File a petition for adoption. You can file the petition with the clerk of the probate court in one of the three places:
- Where you live;
- Where the adoption agency is located; or
- Where the child lives.
- Pay fees. You have to pay an adoption history fee of $20 and a putative father registry fee of $50, both to the state department of health. There will also be attorney fees and court fees. Some children are eligible for Federal Adoption Assistance Program and county subsidies. Ask your attorney if your child is eligible for financial assistance.
- Period of supervision. After you adopt the child, the court will determine the period of supervision by state or private agency.
- Finalize the adoption. Finalization of adoption is a judicial proceeding during which the adoptive parents are granted permanent legal custody of the child. Most adoptions are finalized within a year from the day when the child was placed in the home.
If you are married, both you and your spouse must sign the petition. Unmarried couples cannot petition to adopt together, only one partner may be the petitioner. If a child has a natural parent and is being adopted by the parent's new spouse, the consent of the natural parent is not necessary.
Last revised: 9-03
LSC Code: 1300100