Indiana Adoption Guide

Everything you need to know about how to adopt in Indiana.

Meghan Rivard February 02, 2015

Welcome, Hoosiers! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption within your state. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in Indiana.

This guide is divided into five parts: general information about adoption in Michigan, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in Slide 6), foster adoption (slide 19), international adoption (slide 28), and stepparent adoption (slide 32). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (slide 35).

Are you interested growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.

Please note:
1. Please note:

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

There are many family-oriented activities in Indiana, including the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Conner Prairie Museum, Indianapolis Zoo, Rhythm Museum, and Go Ape Treetop Adventures.

Adoption in Indiana at a Glance
3. Adoption in Indiana at a Glance

Kids in Foster Care Available for Adoption in 2014: 9,2014
Foster adoptions completed in 2013: 961
International adoptions completed in 2011: 235
Total adoptions completed in 2011: 1,790

Can I Adopt in Indiana?
4. Can I Adopt in Indiana?

Adoption requirements in the state of Indiana are as follows:

Age: 21 or older

Marital Status: Married or single.

Finances: There is no specific amount but will need to be able to support any adopted children.

Housing: Must have a bedroom for the adopted child.

Work: Must have employment to support an adopted child.

Personality: Must be willing to be a parent, complete a home study, and complete any required training.

Experience: No experience with children needed. May have no children or children already in the home.

Other Requirements in State:

DISQUALIFYING CRIMES:  For an adoption in Indiana, one must:

- 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.

(Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway)

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our adoption forums.

You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in Indiana
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in Indiana

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in Indiana.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

In Indiana, professional assistance can come from a licensed child placing agency, lawyer, or the Department of Children’s Services.

Some people pursuing a private adoption find it beneficial to work with a professional adoption facilitator, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

An adoption facilitator helps to match a birth mother and her child with an adopting family. Most child adoption facilitators are not licensed. If the adoption facilitator gives services without cost, there is usually no problem; however, if a facilitator charges a fee, many states have prohibited facilitator help. In states where fees are allowed by licensed facilitators, those payments are strictly limited.

If you use a paid adoption facilitator, it could have a negative impact on your adoption finalization and could even end in criminal prosecutions. (Source: Adoptiing Family Resources)

The Department of State has received so many complaints about facilitators that they recommend using a reputable adoption agency. (Source: Adopting Family Resources)

In Indiana, only licensed adoption agencies or attorneys can provide adoption services. (Ind. Code § 35-46-1-22) The penalty for adoption facilitators not licensed by the state could be up to three times the amount they receive.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in Indiana here.

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you complete your adoption privately (through an attorney) or through an agency, you will need to complete an adoption home study.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your adoptive partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on Slide Three.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word

Indiana law states that any advertising must be from a lawyer or child placing agency.  

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

Creating a listing on Adoption.com Parent Profiles is an excellent way to connect with potential birth parents across the country. To comply with Indiana state laws, you'll need to coordinate all advertising activities with your adoption agency or attorney.

Parent Profiles
11. Parent Profiles

Creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person.

Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.

What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Visit adoption.com/profiles.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

To sign relinquishment papers in Indiana, the birth mother can sign anytime after birth and birth father can sign anytime, even prior to birth. There are two complications to consider when dealing with relinquishment in Indiana.

First, after the birth parents relinquish their rights, the release itself is considered final in court. (Unlike other states where the mother can change her mind up to five days after the signing.) In order to cancel the relinquishment, birth parents must sign a petition in court and prove to a judge that the revocation of their relinquishment is in the best interest of the child.

Second, fathers have 30 days after the birth of the child to relinquish their rights. Until both parents sign, (if the father is the presumed father) relinquishment isn't final.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights

There is a 30 day period after consent is signed for the birth father to register on the putative father registry.

A putative father is a child's birth father who is not married to the child's birth mother by the time the child is born. A putative father could also be a birth father who has not established paternity of the child before the filing of an adoption petition for the child.

If the putative father's identity is not disclosed by the child's birth mother to the attorney or agency arranging the adoption, the father must register to be notified of the child's adoption.

(Source: In.gov)

Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
14. Domestic Infant Adoption: Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide legal, living, and medical expenses for an expectant mother. There are, however, requirements governing such support.

Permitted Expenses
-attorney fees
-travel/maternity clothes
-living expenses during the second and third trimesters
-wages not more than the actual job held by the birth mother lost due to medical conditions

Banned Expenses
-expenses must be within the time frame of three months before birth and six weeks after
-living expenses cannot exceed $3,000 for the entire period, unless approved by court
-living expenses after birth cannot exceed $1,000

Read more at our Indiana Adoption Wiki.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
15. Domestic Infant Adoption: Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contracts are legally enforceable but can be terminated or changed at any time in Indiana. The breaking of a post-adoption contact agreement does not nullify an adoption.

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The agreement outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families will have after the adoption is finalized.

Post-adoption contact agreements with infants ages two and under cannot include visitation.

For more information, check out our Indiana Adoption Wiki.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization
16. Domestic Infant Adoption: Finalization

The finalization hearing, usually about 30 to 60 minutes, is a judicial proceeding in which adoptive parents are granted permanent legal custody of their adopted child, and in which the judge confirms that the parents are able to provide for their new child. (Source: Indiana's Adoption Program)

While Indiana requires no amount of time to finalize an adoption, birth parents have 30 days to relinquish their rights. An adoption cannot be finalized until the birth parents relinquish their parental rights.

Domestic Infant Adoption: A word about the ICPC
17. Domestic Infant Adoption: A word about the ICPC

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

Foster Adoption in Indiana
18. Foster Adoption in Indiana

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in Indiana.

Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Indiana
19. Foster Adoption: Children Available for Foster Adoption in Indiana

Many of the almost 10,000 children in foster care in Indiana are waiting for adoptive families.

Adoption.com does not currently have any children from the state of Indiana listed in its photolisting. Please contact Sharon Swanson (Sharon.Swanson@dcs.in.gov) in the Indiana Department of Child Services and let them know that you would like to see Indiana's adoptable children listed on the Adoption.com Photolisting, which is a free community service provided by Adoption.com.

Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help
20. Foster Adoption: Get Professional Help

In the state of Indiana, you can complete a foster adoption either through a private agency that is licensed to provide foster care services or directly through the Indiana Department of Children Services.

To find adoption agencies in Indiana and to read reviews, check out Adoption.com’s Indiana Reviews page.

You will still need to complete a home study as part of this process. If you are adopting through the DCFS, financial subsidies may be available.

Becoming Part of the Foster Care System
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System

The foster care system places legal risk children in willing homes until they are able to reunite with their birth family again. However, if after multiple attempts of reunification have failed, these children are available for adoption.

A licensed foster parent who has completed an approved adoption Family Preparation process or is in the process can be a caregiver for the children in the foster care system. In Indiana, some agencies offer a combined Family Preparation process which allows applicants to become a licensed foster parent and be approved to adopt at the end of the process.

(Source: Indiana Department of Child Services)

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
22. Post-Adoption Contact Agreements

Post-adoption contracts are not legally binding and can be terminated or changed at any time in Indiana.  

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The agreement outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families will have after the adoption is finalized.

In instances in which the child’s biological parents’ rights have been involuntarily terminated, the well-being of the child needs to be first and foremost in everyone’s minds if a post-adoption contact agreement is created. Caseworkers and therapists should be consulted in making decisions about contact after adoption.

Finalization
23. Finalization

The required time between placement and finalization is 60 days and a lawyer is strongly recommended, but not required.    

Adoption Assistance
24. Adoption Assistance

There are several adoption assistance programs available, including Show Hope, Lifesong for Orphans, Brittany's Hope, and America’s Christian Credit Union.

Foster Adoption - A Word about the ICPC
25. Foster Adoption - A Word about the ICPC

In adopting a child from foster care, there are opportunities to adopt a child from a different state. If this is the case, you will need to comply with the requirements of The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children.

It is not generally recommended that adoptive families contact the ICPC office directly, as it tends to delay or disrupt the process. Your attorney or agency will manage the ICPC process for you.

Read more about the ICPC here.

International Adoption in Indiana
26. International Adoption in Indiana

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in Indiana.

International Adoption: Photolisting
27. International Adoption: Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Click here to meet some of them through our photolisting.

International Adoption: Get Professional Help
28. International Adoption: Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards. Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria. you should probably consider. Click here Adoption.com/reviews/indiana to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in Indiana.

In order to be approved to adopt internationally, you will need to complete an international, adoption-specific home study.

International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements
29. International Adoption: Post-Adoption Requirements

Once your family is back home, you need to register the adoption with the courts, so you will be issued a foreign adoption decree in order to then get your child’s birth certificate.   

You will also need to request a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Read more about post-adoption requirements here.

Stepparent Adoption in Indiana
30. Stepparent Adoption in Indiana

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in Indiana.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights
31. Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights

In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding biological parent’s rights will first need to be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

You will need to consult with an adoption attorney about your desire to adopt. He/she can help you decide if it’s likely that the biological parent would be willing to relinquish rights OR if it would be feasible to pursue involuntary termination of his/her parental rights.

Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt
32. Stepparent Adoption: Petitioning to Adopt

Once parental rights have been terminated, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. You and your spouse will both testify in court regarding the stability of your marital relationship, the bond you’ve developed with your stepchild, and your desire to become the legal parent of your stepchild.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

author image

Meghan Rivard

Meghan is an adoptive mother and a big advocate of adoption and foster care. She resides in Indiana with her husband, their one-year-old daughter who is the center of their lives, and their dog Max. She has a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Social Work. Meghan stays at home with her daughter but is so happy she found this outlet to share her personal adoption story and educate about adoption!


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