If you live in Indiana and are considering adopting a child, then you’ve come to the right source for details on an Indiana adoption. Although your family’s adoption journey will be unique, there are some requirements that are the same no matter what type of Indiana adoption you choose. Along the way, you will make countless decisions, including the type of adoption that’s right for your family and the adoption professionals who help you complete your journey. Before beginning, you need to make sure that you meet all of the Indiana adoption guidelines and determine which adoption is best for you.

Who Can Adopt

Every state has different regulations when it comes to adoption. That’s why it’s important to note Indiana’s requirements before starting the process. Prospective parents for an Indiana adoption must be residents of the state, at least 21 years old, and can be single, married, or divorced. Non-residents can only adopt hard-to-place children. Although there are no specific income requirements for families, adoptive parents must show their home is suitable for a child.

Indiana Adoption Home Study

No matter what type of adoption you choose, you’ll start with a home study, which is a detailed written report on your family background, employment, home, and health. In Indiana, a licensed child-placing agency or the Office of Family and Children must complete your study.

For an Indiana adoption, a home study must include information about your residence through a home visit and a criminal history background check. The checks include an FBI fingerprint, a child abuse and neglect check, a local police check, and a sex offender check. Any child 14 years or older must also get a state police background inspection.

Home studies usually include references from friends and family who will speak to your strengths and weaknesses as a parent. In order to complete the home study, you will need to gather legal documents, like marriage licenses, divorce decrees, and birth certificates. Interviews are conducted by a caseworker so they can gain a thorough understanding of your personal history.

Domestic Adoption

Domestic adoption is the process of adopting a child who was born in the United States. Prospective adoptive parents can pursue an Indiana adoption using either an adoption agency or an adoption attorney in an independent adoption. Both are great options for your adoption process, but which is right for you?

Adoption agencies guide parents through a step-by-step process, which includes a home study, adoption training, and counseling for both the adoptive and birth parents. Agencies outline their fees in advance and have a set schedule for payment so parents have an idea of costs before they begin the process. Agencies also provide support for adoptive parents through a caseworker or adoption specialist. Since many adoption agencies work with birth parents, you will put together your profile—a collection of pictures and your family story, which will be shown to birth parents looking for a family for their child. Before beginning, check to see that your Indiana adoption agency is licensed.

Indiana also allows couples to choose an independent adoption, also known as a private adoption. Independent adoptions give parents the opportunity to use a licensed attorney and offer both the adoptive and birth parents more freedom. However, it also puts added responsibility on the prospective parents to find their own adoption professionals, including a licensed agency to complete the home study.

Adoptive parents will need to pursue their own matches with birth parents and can access resources like Adoption.com’s Parent Profiles. Parents should keep in mind that according to state law, advertising for an Indiana adoption must be completed by a licensed adoption agency or attorney.

Indiana adoption laws regulate what kind of expenses parents are allowed to pay for. Birth parent counseling is permitted as a legal birth mother expense, as well as reimbursements for reasonable expenses related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery of the child, and certain amounts for living expenses up to six weeks after birth. Birth mother expenses are capped at $3,000. Because of the limitations on what birth parent expenses are allowed, always check with a licensed attorney before making payment for any expenses.

By law, parents in Indiana cannot use an adoption facilitator to help them find a child. Only a licensed adoption agency or the Office of Family and Children in your county can approve the placement of a child in a home.

No matter which type of domestic adoption you decide on, another factor to consider is how much contact to have with the birth mother both before and after the birth. This includes the decision about whether you will be present in the delivery room or at the hospital after the child is born. You will also decide on how much contact to have after the child is born, including whether you are comfortable with an open adoption.

Birth mothers can sign relinquishment, or consent forms, only after the birth of a child. However, a birth father can sign relinquishment forms before or after the child’s birth, up to 30 days. In Indiana, once these forms are signed, they are considered final and do not give birth parents a window to change their mind. However, they can withdraw consent up to 30 days after signing if they can prove this is in the best interest of the child.

Indiana uses a putative father registry to notify men who might be the father that an adoption has been filed. If a man does not register as the putative father, he gives up his right to get notice of the adoption and to successfully challenge an adoption. Men have up 30 days after the birth of a child or by the date of the filing of the adoption petition to register on the putative father registry.

If parents choose to adopt a child from another state, they will need to follow the regulations and complete an ICPC, or Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster Care Adoption

Many children are available for an Indiana adoption through foster care. According to the Administration for Children and Families, Indiana had 29,315 children in foster care in 2016. Children from foster care represent all races and ages. Not all children in foster care are available for adoption, but when parental rights are terminated, a foster child might become available for adoption. Many foster children are waiting for families, including older children and teenagers.

Although there are many similarities to domestic adoption, there are also some key differences. In order to become a foster parent, you must be 21 years old, single or married, and must pass all the same background checks as domestic adoption. In addition, you must complete licensing requirements by the Department of Child Services. This includes 10 hours of preservice training along with First Aid, CPR, and universal precautions training. Fifteen hours of in-service training are required each year to maintain this license.

Foster parents also need to show their home or rental is equipped to meet the needs of children, which includes adequate space and standard safety requirements like fire extinguishers. In addition, medical forms, personal references and home visits with a licensed specialist will need to be completed. You do not need to be married to become a foster parent, but if you are cohabitating, then your relationship must be established for at least one year.

Currently, many waiting children in foster care are available for adoption through the Indiana Adoption Program, a statewide initiative through the Indiana Department of Child Services. These children are typically between the ages of 8-16 or are part of sibling groups.

In order to adopt a waiting child, you need to complete the adoptive parent training sessions through the state and have an approved home study. Either the Department of Child Services or a licensed private agency can complete the home study.

Subsidies are available for hard-to-place children who are in the custody of the state after the adoption is finalized. This includes children who are 2 years or older, a sibling group, or a child who, at the time of the adoption, is at increased risk of developing a social, emotional, physical, or mental condition.

How long it takes to complete an Indiana adoption from foster care depends on many factors. Although prospective adoptive parents can typically meet the state requirements in 6-12 months, the process may be affected by other variables that impact the timing of finalization. As with all adoptions, it’s important to remember the process is worth the wait.

Intercountry Adoption

Just like other types of adoption, prospective parents from Indiana who desire to adopt internationally must go through an accredited adoption agency, due to the Universal Accreditation Act. Do your research and ask questions before beginning your adoption to make sure your agency is accredited and what fees will be required. The fees vary depending on the country you choose, but expect to pay country fees and expenses related to travel and visas.

Just like domestic adoption, international adoption requires a home study. In addition, the agency will help you prepare a dossier, which includes the legal documents needed for international adoption requirements. Each country decides their own adoptive parent requirements, including age requirements, health considerations, financial stability, marital status, and length of the marriage. The travel requirements can take several weeks or require multiple trips during the course of the adoption. Available children can range in age from older infants to teenagers, with many waiting children in need of a home. Sometimes a child’s health history, special needs, or developmental delays may be unknown before you finalize your adoption.

Although most countries handle the adoption proceedings when you are visiting, upon returning, you will need to file an adoption decree with the clerk of court in your county. With this Indiana adoption decree, you will then receive your child’s new birth certificate issued by the Indiana State Board of Health.

Now that you know the requirements for an Indiana adoption, you are ready to start your journey. If you need more information on Indiana adoptions, check out our forums for adoptive parents.

Are you ready to have a child placed in your home? Our Parent Profiles give you the opportunity to create your family profile and connect with birth parents across the country.