Indiana Adoption Attorneys
At McNeely Stephenson, nothing gives us more satisfaction than being able to help a family grow through adoption. We understand the joys and complexities of the adoption process and find it very rewarding to be able to help unite loving parents with children through adoption. We are also very familiar with the excitement and complications that can accompany adoption by a stepparent.
New Albany Adoption Lawyers
There are many choices to be made at the outset of adoption, such as the characteristics of the child you will adopt, how you will find the child, and whether to have an open or closed adoption. Some people feel strongly about wanting a child of a certain gender, race, ethnicity, or age. Reasons vary, but some people may just feel more comfortable with particular qualities while others want the challenge of a child with a different background or want an older child. Determining the type of child you are prepared to raise will help you figure out the best type of adoption to pursue. For example, if you want a baby, then you will likely have more success pursuing a private adoption. If you want an older child, you might be better off adopting from foster care. International adoptions can be very lengthy, but also can offer a degree of predictability that is not part of private or foster child adoptions.
In an open adoption, the birth parents continue to have direct contact with the child after the adoption. In a semi-open adoption, information about the child is shared with the birth parents, but there is no substantial amount of personal contact after the adoption. In a closed adoption, only non-identifying information about the birth parents is made available, and all other information is sealed. Non-identifying information includes, among other facts, age at the time of adoption, ethnicity, race, level of education, religion, and health history. Not all of this information will necessarily be available, although upon adoption, you will likely receive a family history/background report. If you are interested in an open adoption or a semi-open adoption relationship, you should consult with an attorney to ensure your interests and those of your newly adopted child are protected.
Adoption in Indiana
Adoption creates a legal parent-child relationship, and any resident of Indiana may file a petition for adoption. You must be able to show that you have sufficient ability to raise the child and that you can provide suitable support and education. If you are married, your spouse must join the petition. There are no restrictions against single LGBT individuals or same-sex couples who wish to adopt. Petitions can be filed with the probate court where you live, where the child lives, or where the adoption agency is located.
Once filed, notice of the petition must be given to any interested parties. The biological parent or parents must either voluntarily consent to the adoption or, if certain factors are met, the court may order a relinquishment of their parental rights. State law also requires a background check and a home study, which assesses your family situation and your fitness as a prospective adoptive parent. The judge will then review all the supporting documentation, ask questions based on that review, and then grant or deny the adoption. On average, most adoptions are finalized within a year from the day the child is placed in your home.
Stepparent Adoption Attorneys
Being a stepparent is often full of the same rewards and challenges as being a biological parent. In the eyes of the law, stepparents who adopt their stepchildren stand in place of the non-custodial biological parent and take over financial and legal responsibility for the child. If you are a stepparent interested in adopting your spouse’s child, the advice of an Indiana stepparent adoption lawyer can be invaluable, because there are specific steps that must be taken in order for the adoption to be successful.
In general, when a divorced parent remarries, the consent of the child’s biological father or mother must be obtained before the stepparent can adopt the child. However, there are some circumstances where the consent requirement can be waived. Indiana allows for such a waiver when:
- The noncustodial parent has been judged by a court to have abandoned the child for more than six months.
- The noncustodial parent has failed to support the child for more than one year or failed to make court-ordered child-support payments.
- The noncustodial parent has failed to significantly communicate with the child for more than one year.
- The noncustodial parent is unfit to parent the child.
We Can Help
Whatever your situation or hopes for the future, the New Albany, IN, adoption lawyers at McNeely Stephenson can help. We understand the issues and can guide you through the adoption process, no matter what type you choose. We will work closely with you and help you make the best decisions possible. We have worked with many families, and we look forward to working with yours. For skilled and knowledgeable representation, contact us by calling 812-725-8224 or filling out our online form. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana; Floyd County, IN; and Clark County, IN.