Indiana

Adoption Laws

Consent to Adoption

Who Must Consent to an Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-9-1

Written consent to adoption must be executed by the following:

  • Each living parent of a child born in wedlock
  • The mother of a child born out of wedlock and the father of a child who has established paternity
  • Each person, agency, or county Office of Family and Children having lawful custody of the child
  • The court having jurisdiction of the custody of the child if the legal guardian or custodian of the person of the child is not empowered to consent to the adoption
  • The spouse of the child to be adopted, if the child is married

A parent who is under age 18 may consent to an adoption without the concurrence of the individual’s parents or guardian unless the court, in the court’s discretion, determines that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted to require the concurrence.

Consent of Child Being Adopted Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-9-1

A child age 14 or older must consent to the adoption.

When Parental Consent Is Not Needed Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-9-8 to 31-19-9-10

Consent is not required from any of the following:

  • A parent who is adjudged to have abandoned the child for at least 6 months immediately prior to filing of the petition
  • A parent of a child in the custody of another person who fails for a period of at least 1 year to communicate significantly or provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so
  • A birth father of a child born out of wedlock who has not established paternity
  • A birth father of a child born out of wedlock whose child was conceived as a result of rape, child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor, or incest
  • A putative father whose consent to adoption is irrevocably implied, who established paternity after an adoption petition was filed, or who failed to register with the putative father registry
  • A parent who has relinquished the right to consent or whose rights have been terminated
  • A parent judicially declared incompetent or mentally defective
  • A legal guardian who has unreasonably failed to consent to the adoption
  • A parent who has been found to be unfit
  • A birth father who had denied paternity before or after the birth of the child

Consent to adoption is not required from a parent if the parent is convicted of committing any of the crimes listed below and the victim is the child’s other parent:

  • Murder, causing suicide, or voluntary manslaughter
  • An attempt to commit a crime described above
  • A crime in another State that is substantially similar to a crime described above

Consent to adoption is not required from a parent if the parent is convicted of any of the following and the victim is another child of the parent:

  • Murder, causing suicide, or voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape, criminal deviate conduct, child molesting, or incest
  • Neglect of a dependent or battery
  • An attempt to commit any of the above

When Consent Can Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-9-2

The consent to adoption may be executed at any time after the birth of the child. The child’s mother may not execute a consent to adoption before the birth of the child.

The child’s father may execute a consent to adoption before the birth of the child if the consent to adoption:

  • Is in writing
  • Is signed by the child’s father in the presence of a notary public
  • Contains an acknowledgment that the consent to adoption is irrevocable and the child’s father will not receive notice of the adoption proceedings

How Consent Must Be Executed Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-9-2

The consent to adoption may be executed either in the presence of:

  • The court
  • A notary public or other person authorized to take acknowledgments
  • An authorized agent of the department, a county office of family and children, or a licensed child-placing agency

Revocation of Consent Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-9-2(d); 31-19-10-3; 31-19-10-4

A child’s father who consents to the adoption of the child prior to the child’s birth may not challenge or contest the child’s adoption.

A consent to adoption may be withdrawn no later than 30 days after consent to adoption is signed, if the court finds that the person seeking the withdrawal is acting in the best interests of the child.

A consent to adoption may not be withdrawn after the entry of the adoption decree.

Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

Requirements for Foster Parents Ann. Code §§ 31-27-4-5; 31-9-2-22.5

The department or, at the discretion of the department, an applicant, shall conduct a criminal history check of:

  • The applicant’s employees and volunteers who have or will have direct contact, on a regular and continuing basis, with children who are or will be under the direct supervision of the applicant
  • All household members who are at least age 14

The department shall make a determination whether the subject of a national fingerprint-based criminal history check has a record of a conviction for a felony or a misdemeanor relating to the health and safety of a child. A criminal history check is required only at the time an application for a new license or the renewal of an existing license is submitted.

A fingerprint-based criminal history background check under § 31-9-2-22.5 (see above) for an employee or volunteer must be completed no later than the first 90 days of employment or assignment of a volunteer.

The term ‘conduct a criminal history check’ means to:

  • Request the State police department to conduct:
    • A fingerprint-based criminal history background check of both national and State records databases concerning a person who is at least age 18
    • A national name-based criminal history record check of a person who is at least age 18 if that person is unable to provide a set of fingerprints
  • Collect each substantiated report of child abuse or neglect reported in a jurisdiction where a probation officer, a caseworker, or the Department of Child Services has reason to believe that a person who is age 14 or older or for whom a criminal history background check is required has resided within the previous 5 years
  • Request information concerning any substantiated report of child abuse and neglect relating to a person described above that is contained in a national registry of substantiated cases that is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Requirements for Adoptive Parents Ann. Code §§31-19-7-1; 31-9-2-22.5

A child may not be placed in a proposed adoptive home without the prior written approval of a licensed child-placing agency or the Department of Child Services. Before giving approval for placement of a child in a proposed adoptive home, a licensed child-placing agency or the department shall conduct a criminal history check (as defined below) concerning the proposed adoptive parent and any other person who is currently residing in the proposed adoptive home.

The term ‘conduct a criminal history check’ means to:

  • Request the State police department to conduct:
    • A fingerprint-based criminal history background check of both national and State records databases concerning a person who is at least age 18
    • A national name-based criminal history record check of a person who is at least age 18 if that person is unable to provide a set of fingerprints
  • Collect each substantiated report of child abuse or neglect reported in a jurisdiction where a probation officer, a caseworker, or the Department of Child Services has reason to believe that a person who is age 14 or older or for whom a criminal history background check is required has resided within the previous 5 years
  • Request information concerning any substantiated report of child abuse and neglect relating to a person described above that is contained in a national registry of substantiated cases that is maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code §§ 31-34-21-5.6; 31-35-2-4.5

A court may find that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his or her parent are not required when:

  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses:
    • A sex offense, as described in § 31-35-3-4(1)(D) through (1)(J), against the child or a parent of the child
    • Murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child or a parent of the child
    • Aiding, inducing, causing another person, attempting, or conspiring with another person to commit murder or manslaughter
    • Felony battery, aggravated battery, criminal recklessness, or neglect of a dependent against a child
  • The parental rights of a parent with respect to a birth or adoptive sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated.
  • The child is an abandoned infant.

A petition for termination of parental rights shall be filed if a court has made a finding under § 31-34-21-5.6 that reasonable efforts for family preservation or reunification with respect to a child in need of services are not required.

A petition also may be filed when a child in need of services or a delinquent child:

  • Has been placed in a foster family home, child-caring institution, licensed group home, or the home of a person related to the child
  • Has been removed from a parent and has been under the supervision of the Department of Child Services or county Probation Department for not less than 15 of the most recent 22 months, beginning with the date the child is removed from the home as a result of the child being alleged to be a child in need of services or a delinquent child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights Ann. Code § 31-35-2-4.5

A petition to terminate parental rights may be dismissed if:

  • The current case plan has documented a compelling reason that termination of the parent-child relationship is not in the best interests of the child. A compelling reason may include the fact that the child is being cared for by a custodian who is a parent, stepparent, grandparent, or responsible adult who is the child’s sibling, aunt, uncle, or another related person who is caring for the child as a legal guardian.
  • The Department of Child Services has not provided family services to the child, parent, or family of the child in accordance with the case plan, and the period for completion of the program of family services has not expired.
  • The department has not provided family services to the child, parent, or family of the child in accordance with the case plan, and the services that the department has not provided are substantial and material in relation to implementation of a plan to permit safe return of the child to the child’s home.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption

Who Must Be Studied Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-7-1

All adult members of the prospective adoptive family must be studied.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5

The study shall be completed by either a licensed child-placing agency or the county Office of Family and Children.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-2-2; 31-19-2-3

A resident of Indiana may adopt a child. A hard-to-place child may be adopted by a nonresident.

Elements of a Home Study Citation: Ann. Code §§31-19-8-6; 31-9-2-22.5

The report required must address the suitability of the proposed home for the child. The report may not contain any information concerning the financial condition of the prospective adoptive parents. The results of a criminal history check must accompany the report.

A criminal history check shall include:

  • A fingerprint-based criminal history background check of both national and State records databases concerning a person who is at least age 18 residing in the home
  • A check for substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect reported in any jurisdiction where a household member has resided within the previous 5 years

Grounds for Withholding Approval

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

When Studies Must Be Completed Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5

When a petition for adoption is made to the court, the court shall refer the case to the appropriate agency for an investigation. No more than 60 days from the date of the referral, the agency shall submit to the court a written report of the investigation and a recommendation as to the advisability of the adoption.

Postplacement Study Requirements Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-8-1; 31-19-8-2

An adoption may be granted only after a period of supervision by a licensed child-placing agency or the county Office of Family and Children. The length of the period of supervision is within the sole discretion of the court hearing the petition for adoption.

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-8-5

A court hearing a petition for adoption of a child may waive the investigation and report if one of the petitioners is a stepparent or grandparent of the child and the court waives the period of supervision.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 465, § 2-3-1

The placement of a child in the custody of an out-of-State court or agency into a licensed foster home in Indiana must be approved by the State Department of Public Welfare. The approval must be made before the placement of the child is made. This approval is based on:

  • Review by the department of a current home study of the proposed foster home that was completed by an Indiana county department of public welfare or licensed, child-placing agency
  • Review of social, medical, and legal information on the child to be placed that is provided by a licensed out-of-State child-placing agency
  • An application request to place a child that is completed by the sending court or agency and signed by the sending State’s Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children administrator

Foster to Adopt Placements

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Infant Safe Haven Laws

Infant’s Age Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-2.5-1

The relinquished child may not be more than 30 days old.

Who May Relinquish the Infant Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-2.5-1

The child may be relinquished by his or her parent or any person designated by the parent.

Who May Receive the Infant Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-2.5-1

The child may be left with an emergency medical services provider.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-2.5-1; 31-34-2.5-2

An emergency medical services provider shall, without a court order, take custody of a child who is, or who appears to be, not more than 45 days old if:

  • The child is voluntarily left with the provider by the child’s parent.
  • The parent does not express an intent to return for the child.

An emergency medical services provider who takes custody of a child under this section shall perform any act necessary to protect the child’s physical health or safety.

Immediately after an emergency medical services provider takes custody of a child, the provider shall notify the Department of Child Services that the provider has taken custody of the child. Not later than 48 hours after the department has taken custody of the child, it shall contact the Indiana Clearinghouse for Information on Missing Children and Missing Endangered Adults to determine if the child has been reported missing.

Immunity for the Provider

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-2.5-1; 35-46-1-4

A person who voluntarily leaves a child with an emergency services provider is not required to disclose his or her name or the parent’s name.

If the accused person left a dependent child, who was not more than 30 days old at the time the alleged act occurred, with an emergency medical provider who took custody of the child, it is a defense to a prosecution for abandonment or neglect of a dependent when:

  • The prosecution is based solely on the alleged act of leaving the child with the emergency medical services provider.
  • The alleged act did not result in bodily injury or serious bodily injury to the child.

Effect on Parental Rights Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-2.5-2; 31-34-2.5-3

The Department of Child Services shall assume the care, control, and custody of the child immediately after receiving notice from the emergency services provider.

A child for whom the Department of Child Services assumes care, control, and custody shall be treated as a child taken into custody without a court order, except that efforts to locate the child’s parents or reunify the child’s family are not necessary if, after receiving a written report and recommendation from the guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate, the court finds that reasonable efforts to locate the child’s parents or reunify the child’s family would not be in the best interests of the child.

Regulation of Private Domestic Adoption Expenses

Birth Parent Expenses Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-46-1-9(b)

Payment of the following expenses is permitted:

  • Reasonable attorney fees
  • Hospital and medical costs related to the birth mother’s pregnancy, labor, and delivery
  • Reasonable expenses for psychological counseling for the birth mother
  • Travel expenses and maternity clothes
  • Living expenses, including housing, utilities, and phone service, during the second and third trimester of pregnancy
  • Reimbursement of not more than actual wages lost as a result of the inability of the adopted child’s birth mother to work at her regular, existing employment due to a medical condition, excluding a psychological condition
  • Any additional living expenses, as approved by the court

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-46-1-9(b), (c)

Payments of expenses are subject to the following limitations:

  • Compensation for lost wages shall be offset by the living expenses paid and any unemployment compensation to which the mother is entitled.
  • Total expenses paid shall not exceed $3,000 unless approved by the court.
  • Payment of living expenses shall not extend beyond 6 weeks after the child’s birth and may not exceed $1,000.

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-46-1-9

Reasonable charges and fees levied by a licensed child-placing agency or by the Department of Child Services are permitted.

Allowable Payments for Relinquishing Child Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-46-1-9(a)

Except for expenses allowed, it is unlawful to transfer or receive property for waiving parental rights or consenting to adoption. The expenses paid must not be offered as an inducement to proceed with the adoption.

Allowable Fees Charged by Department/Agency Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 31-19-2-8; 31-19-7-1

The petitioner for adoption must attach to the petition for adoption:

  • An adoption history fee of $20, payable to the State Department of Health
  • A putative father registry fee of $50, payable to the State Department of Health for:
    • Administering the putative father registry
    • Paying for blood or genetic testing in a paternity action in which an adoption is pending, in accordance with § 31-14-21-9.1

The prospective adoptive parent shall pay the fees and other costs of the criminal history check required by law.

Accounting of Expenses Required by Court Citation: Ann. Stat. § 35-46-1-9(c)

All fees and expenses paid must be disclosed to the court supervising the adoption.

The Rights of Unmarried Fathers

Legal Definition of Father Ann. Code §§ 31-9-2-9; 31-9-2-88; 31-9-2-100

An ‘alleged father’ is any man claiming to be or charged with being a child’s biological father. A ‘parent,’ for purposes of the juvenile law, is a biological or an adoptive parent. Unless otherwise specified, the term includes both parents, regardless of their marital status.

A ‘putative father’ is a male of any age who is alleged to be or claims that he may be a child’s father but who:

  • Is not presumed to be the child’s father under §§ 31-14-7-1(1) or 31-14-7-1(2)
  • Has not established paternity of the child before the filing of an adoption petition either in a court proceeding or by executing a paternity affidavit under § 16-37-2-2.1

Paternity Registry Ann. Code §§ 31-19-5-2; 31-19-5-3; 31-19-5-5

The putative father registry is established within the State Department of Health. The registry’s purpose is to determine the name and address of a father:

  • Whose name and address have not been disclosed by the mother of the child, on or before the date the mother executes a consent to the child’s adoption, to an attorney or an agency that is arranging the adoption of the child
  • Who may have conceived a child for whom a petition for adoption has been or may be filed to provide notice of the adoption to the putative father

If, on or before the date the mother of a child executes a consent to the child’s adoption, the mother does not disclose to the attorney or agency that is arranging or may arrange an adoption of the child the name or address, or both, of the putative father of the child, the putative father must register under this chapter to entitle him to notice of the child’s adoption.

Alternate Means to Establish Paternity Ann. Code § 16-37-2-2.1

Immediately before or after the birth of a child who is born out of wedlock, a person who attends or plans to attend the birth, including personnel of all public or private birthing hospitals, shall provide an opportunity for the child’s mother and a man who reasonably appears to be the child’s biological father to execute an affidavit acknowledging paternity of the child.

A paternity affidavit must be executed on a form provided by the department. The paternity affidavit is valid only if the affidavit is executed as follows:

  • If executed through a hospital, the affidavit must be completed no more than 72 hours after the child’s birth.
  • If executed through a local health department, the affidavit must be completed before the child has reached the age of emancipation.

A paternity affidavit is not valid if it is executed after the mother of the child has executed a consent to adoption of the child and a petition to adopt the child has been filed. The affidavit must contain or be attached to all of the following:

  • The mother’s sworn statement asserting that a person described in the affidavit is the child’s biological father
  • A statement by a person identified as the father in the affidavit attesting to a belief that he is the child’s biological father
  • Written information furnished by the child support bureau of the department of child services explaining the effect of an executed paternity affidavit and describing the availability of child support enforcement services
  • The Social Security number of each parent

If a man has executed a paternity affidavit in accordance with this section, the executed paternity affidavit conclusively establishes the man as the legal father of a child without any further proceedings by a court.

Required Information Ann. Code 31-19-5-7(a)

The State Department of Health shall maintain the following information in the registry:

  • The putative father’s:
    • Name
    • Address at which he may be served with notice of an adoption
    • Social Security number
    • Date of birth
  • The mother’s:
    • Name, including all other names known to the putative father that the mother uses, if known
    • Address, if known
    • Social Security number, if known
    • Date of birth, if known
  • The child’s:
    • Name, if known
    • Place of birth, if known
  • The date that the department receives a putative father’s registration
  • The name of an attorney or agency that requests the department to search the registry to determine whether

a putative father is registered in relation to a mother whose child is or may be the subject of an adoption • The date that the attorney or agency submits a request • Any other information that the department determines is necessary to access the information in the registry

Revocation of Claim to Paternity Ann. Code §§ 31-19-5-19; 16-37-2-2.1

A putative father may revoke a registration at any time by submitting a signed, notarized statement revoking the registration.

A paternity affidavit that is properly executed under § 16-37-2-2.1 may not be rescinded more than 60 days after the paternity affidavit is executed unless a court:

  • Has determined that fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact existed in the execution of the paternity affidavit
  • At the request of a man who is a party to a paternity affidavit, has ordered a genetic test, and the test indicates that the man is excluded as the father of the child

Unless good cause is shown, a court shall not suspend the legal responsibilities of a party to the executed paternity affidavit during a challenge to the affidavit.

The court may not set aside the paternity affidavit unless a genetic test excludes the person who executed the paternity affidavit as the child’s biological father.

Access to Information Ann. Code § 31-19-5-21

The State Department of Health shall furnish a certified copy of a putative father’s registration form, upon written request, to:

  • A putative father
  • A mother
  • A child
  • Any party or attorney of record in a pending adoption
  • An attorney who represents prospective adoptive parents or petitioners in an adoption
  • A licensed child-placing agency that represents prospective adoptive parents or petitioners in an adoption
  • A court that presides over a pending adoption

Use of Advertising and Facilitators in Adoptive Placements

Use of Advertisement Citation: Ann. Code § 35-46-1-21

Only a licensed attorney or a licensed child-placing agency may place a paid advertisement or paid listing of a person’s telephone number, on that person’s own behalf, in a telephone directory that a child is offered or wanted for adoption, or that person is able to place, locate, or receive a child for adoption.

Use of Intermediaries/Facilitators Citation: Ann. Code § 35-46-1-22

A person who knowingly or intentionally provides, engages in, or facilitates adoption services to a birth parent or prospective adoptive parent who resides in Indiana commits unauthorized adoption facilitation, a misdemeanor.

‘Adoption services’ means at least one of the following services that is provided for compensation, either directly or indirectly, and provided either before or after the services are rendered:

  • Arranging for the placement of a child
  • Identifying a child for adoption
  • Matching adoptive parents with birth parents
  • Arranging or facilitating an adoption
  • Taking or acknowledging consents or surrenders for termination of parental rights for adoption purposes
  • Performing background studies on the adoptive child or adoptive parents
  • Making determinations about the best interests of a child and the appropriateness in placing the child for adoption
  • Postplacement monitoring of a child before the adoption is finalized

The term ‘adoption services’ does not include:

  • Legal services provided by an Indiana-licensed attorney
  • Adoption-related services provided by a government entity or by a person appointed to perform an investigation by the court
  • General education and training on adoption issues
  • Postadoption services, including supportive services to families to promote the well-being of members of adoptive families or birth families

This section does not apply to the following:

  • The Department of Child Services, an agency or person authorized to act on behalf of the department, or a similar agency in another State
  • The Division of Family Resources, an agency or person authorized to act on behalf of the division, or a similar agency in another State
  • A child-placing agency licensed under the laws of Indiana or another State
  • An attorney licensed to practice law in Indiana or another State
  • A birth parent or prospective adoptive parent acting on his or her own behalf

Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?

Who May Adopt Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-2-1; 31-19-2-2; 31-19-2-3; 31-19-2-4

The following persons may adopt:

  • A resident of Indiana may adopt.
  • A nonresident may adopt a hard-to-place child.

A husband and wife must petition jointly unless the spouse is married to the biological or adoptive mother or father of the child.

Who May Be Adopted Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-2-2; 31-19-2-1

The following persons may be adopted:

  • A child younger than age 18
  • A person age 18 or older who consents to his or her adoption by a resident of Indiana

Who May Place a Child for Adoption Citation: Ann. Code § 31-19-7-1

A child may not be placed in a proposed adoptive home without the prior written approval of a licensed child-placing agency or county Office of Family and Children approved for that purpose by the Department of Child Services.

Post-Adoption Laws

Access to Adoption Records

Who May Access Information Citation: Ann. Stat. § 31-19-22-2

The following persons may request the release of identifying information:

  • An adult adopted person
  • A birth parent
  • An adoptive parent
  • The spouse or relative of a deceased adopted person
  • The spouse or relative of a deceased birth parent

Access to Nonidentifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 31-19-17-3; 31-19-17-5

The person, licensed child-placing agency, or county office shall release all available social, medical, psychological, and educational records concerning the child to:

The report shall exclude information that would identify the birth parents unless the adoptive parent, prospective adoptive parent, or adopted person who requests the information knows the identity of the birth parents.

For an adoption that was granted before July 1, 1993: Upon the request of an adopted person who is at least age 21, the licensed child-placing agency or a county office shall provide to the adopted person available information of social, medical, psychological, and educational records and reports. Information that would identify the birth parents shall be excluded from the report unless an adopted person already knows the identity of the birth parents.

Mutual Access to Identifying Information Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 31-19-22-2; 31-19-25-2; 31-19-25-2.5; 31-19-25-3

Identifying information may not be released unless the adult adopted person and the birth parent have submitted a written consent to the State Registrar or the person from whom the identifying information is requested that allows the release of the information to the individual requesting the information.

Identifying information for an adopted person who is younger than age 21 may not be released unless the adopted person’s adoptive parent has submitted a written consent for the release of identifying information.

For adoptions after December 31, 1993: Identifying information shall be released only if the adopted person has submitted a written consent to the State Registrar or the person who has requested the release of identifying information. If the adopted person is younger than age 21, identifying information may not be released unless the adopted person’s adoptive parent has submitted a written consent for the release of identifying information.

A birth parent may restrict access to his or her identifying information by filing a written nonrelease form with the State Registrar. The nonrelease form:

  • Remains in effect during the period indicated by the individual submitting the form
  • Is renewable
  • May be withdrawn at any time by the individual who submitted the form

The nonrelease form is no longer in effect if the birth parent consents in writing to the release of identifying information and has not withdrawn that consent. A nonrelease form is no longer in effect if the birth parent who filed the nonrelease form is deceased unless the nonrelease form specifically states that the nonrelease form remains in effect after the birth parent’s death.

Access to Original Birth Certificate Citation: Ann. Stat. § 31-19-13-2

The original birth certificate is withheld from inspection except for a child adopted by a stepparent or as provided in statutes pertaining to release of identifying information.

Where the Information Can Be Located

Indiana Adoption History Registry, Indiana State Department of Health, Vital Statistics

Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Persons

Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code § 29-1-2-8

For all purposes of intestate succession, an adopted child shall cease to be treated as a child of the birth parent(s) and any previous adopting parent(s). However, if a birth parent of a child born in or out of wedlock marries the adopting parent, the adopted child shall inherit from the child’s birth parent as though the child had not been adopted, and from the child’s adoptive parent as though the child were their birth child. In addition, if a person who is related to a child within the sixth degree adopts the child, the child shall upon the occasion of each death in the child’s family have the right of inheritance through the child’s birth parents or adopting parents, whichever is greater in value in each case.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person Citation: Ann. Code § 29-1-2-8

For all purposes of intestate succession, an adopted child shall be treated as a natural child of the child’s adopting parent(s).

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will Citation: Ann. Code § 29-1-3-8

When a testator fails to provide in his or her will for any of his or her children who were adopted after the making the will, the child shall receive a share in the estate equal in value to that which he or she would have received if the testator had died intestate, unless it appears from the will that such omission was intentional, or unless when the will was executed the testator had one or more children known to him or her to be living and bequeathed substantially all his or her estate to the spouse who survives him or her.

Postadoption Contact Agreements Between Birth and Adoptive Families

What may be included in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-3; 31-19-16-9

A postadoption contact agreement must contain the following provisions:

  • An acknowledgment by the birth parents that the adoption is irrevocable, even if the adoptive parents do not abide by the postadoption contact agreement
  • An acknowledgment by the adoptive parents that the agreement grants the birth parents the right to seek enforcement of the postadoption privileges set forth in the agreement

Postadoption contact privileges are permissible without court approval in an adoption of a child who is younger than age 2 upon the agreement of the adoptive parents and a birth parent. However, postadoption contact privileges under this section may not include visitation. A postadoption contact agreement under this section is not enforceable and does not affect the finality of the adoption.

Who may be a party to a postadoption contact agreement? Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-1; 31-19-16.5-1

At the time an adoption decree is entered, the court entering the adoption decree may grant postadoption contact privileges to a birth parent who has consented to the adoption or voluntarily terminated the parent-child relationship.

At the time an adoption decree is entered, the court may order the adoptive parents to provide specific postadoption contact for an adopted child who is at least age 2 with a preadoptive sibling if:

  • The court determines that the postadoption contact would serve the best interests of the adopted child.
  • Each adoptive parent consents to the court's order for postadoption contact privileges.

What is the role of the court in postadoption contact agreements? Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-2; 31-19-16.5-2

A court may grant postadoption contact privileges if:

  • The court determines that the best interests of the child would be served.
  • The child is at least age 2 and the court finds that there is a significant emotional attachment between the child and the birth parent.
  • Each adoptive parent consents to the granting of postadoption contact privileges.
  • The adoptive parents and the birth parents execute a postadoption contact agreement and file the agreement with the court.
  • The licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption and the child’s court-appointed special advocate or guardian ad litem recommends to the court the postadoption contact agreement, or if there is no licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption, the county Office of Family and Children or other agency that prepared an adoption report is informed of the contents of the agreement and comments on the agreement in the agency’s report to the court.
  • Consent to postadoption contact is obtained from the child if the child is at least age 12.
  • The postadoption contact agreement is approved by the court.

In making its determination regarding sibling postadoption contact, the court shall consider any relevant evidence, including the following:

  • A recommendation made by a licensed child-placing agency sponsoring the adoption
  • A recommendation made by the adopted child's court-appointed special advocate or guardian ad litem
  • A recommendation made by the county Office of Family and Children or other agency that prepared a report of its investigation and its recommendation as to the advisability of the adoption
  • The wishes expressed by the adopted child or adoptive parents

Are agreements legally enforceable? Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-4; 31-19-16-6; 31-19-16.5-4; 31-19-16.5-5

A birth parent or an adoptive parent may file a petition with the court entering the adoption decree to compel a birth parent or an adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact agreement.

Before the court hears a motion to compel compliance with an agreement, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent and protect the best interests of the child. However, the court may only appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate for the adopted child if the interests of an adoptive parent differ from the child’s interests to the extent that the court determines that the appointment is necessary to protect the best interests of the child.

The following persons may file a petition requesting that the court vacate or modify a postadoption contact order with a preadoptive sibling or to compel an adoptive parent to comply with the postadoption contact order:

  • A preadoptive sibling by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • The adopted child by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • An adoptive parent

How may an agreement be terminated or modified? Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-4; 31-19-16-6; 31-19-16.5-4; 31-19-16.5-5

A birth parent or an adoptive parent may file a petition with the court entering the adoption decree to modify the postadoption contact agreement.

The court may void or modify a postadoption contact agreement at any time before or after the adoption if the court determines after a hearing that the best interests of the child requires the voiding or modifying of the agreement.

Before the court voids or modifies an agreement, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate to represent and protect the best interests of the child.

The following persons may file a petition requesting that the court vacate or modify a postadoption contact order with a preadoptive sibling:

  • A preadoptive sibling by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • The adopted child by a next friend, guardian ad litem, or court-appointed special advocate
  • An adoptive parent

The court may vacate or modify a postadoption contact order entered under this chapter at any time after the adoption if the court determines, after a hearing, that it is in the best interests of the adopted child.

Laws Related to Intercountry Adoption

Effect and Recognition of a Foreign Adoption Decree

Ann. Code § 31-19-28-1

Whenever a person is adopted outside Indiana, under the laws of the State, territory, or country where the adoption took place:

  • The adoption decree, when filed with the clerk of the court of any county in Indiana and when entered upon the order book of the court in open session, has the same force and effect as if the adoption decree were made in accordance with this article.
  • The adoptee has the same rights and is capable of taking by inheritance, upon the death of the adoptive parent, property located in Indiana, as though the person had been adopted according to the laws of Indiana.

The adoptee may request a new name in a petition filed under this section.

Readoption After an Intercountry Adoption

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Application for a U.S. Birth Certificate

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Source

Child Welfare Information Gateway. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. [1]

References