Each state’s adoption laws can vary, so it is important that if you are considering adopting a child in Indiana that you become familiar with Indiana adoption laws.
Indiana adoption laws are in place to protect the birth parents, the prospective adoptive parents, and the child being adopted. You will want to find an adoption agency or an adoption lawyer who is very knowledgeable in Indiana adoption laws.
We will cover some of the legal specifics for those adopting in Indiana involving newborn adoptions through the domestic adoption process, as well as adopting an infant or older child through the foster care system.
With so many aspects of Indiana adoption laws and their corresponding policies, it is impossible to cover them all in one article. We will, however, dive into many facets of the adoption laws in Indiana.
You are strongly encouraged to contact a licensed adoption agency or an adoption lawyer for specific adoption laws and policies in Indiana, as laws and policies do change.
Can you adopt without a lawyer? How much do adoption attorneys cost? Learn all that and more by visiting Adoption Lawyers in Indiana: Do You Need an Adoption Attorney? where we also give you step-by-step instructions on how to vet an adoption lawyer.
Adoption Requirements in Indiana
- Must be 21 years of age or older.
- A background check is required.
- One may be either single or married.
- LGBT couples may adopt.
- A non-resident may only adopt a hard-to-place child.
It is common knowledge that adoption is costly, but that is not to be confused with a false expectation that a prospective parent should be well off financially. Financial security is important and expected when applying to adopt a child, yet being upper class is not one of those qualifications.
Financial security simply means that you can pay your bills, cover your rent or mortgage and that you have a reliable means of income and transportation. What matters most is that a child is loved, cared for, and kept safe and comfortable.
Learn more about adoption attorneys in our article What Does an Adoption Attorney Do? We Find Out.
Adoption Consent in Indiana
Below is a summary including key points of the adoption consent laws in Indiana put together for your convenience and is intended to be quicker to digest. For a complete listing of all adoption consent laws in their legal format and their entirety, visit Title 31-19-9-1, courtesy of FindLaw.
It goes without saying that consent to adopt is a huge part of the adoption process. We may forget, however, that there is more involved than the birth mother’s consent.
Another aspect may come into play that you will want to keep in mind.
- The adoptee who is 14 years of age or older must give their consent to the adoption. An exception to this would be if the child is mentally incompetent.
- The presumed father has the right to consent to the adoption.
- The agency to which the adoptee has been relinquished or which holds permanent custody and which has placed the adoptee for adoption.
Indiana Subsidies for Foster Care Adoption
Adoption assistance, otherwise known as adoption subsidies, is available for foster children in Indiana who suffer from physical, mental, and developmental challenges.
These children are at a heightened risk of health problems, learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Subsidized adoption assists adoptive families with medical access, special equipment, therapies, tutoring, and other support services.
In the US, about 90% of the children in foster care are eligible for adoption assistance.
Special Needs Eligibility in Indiana
A child with special needs may qualify for adoption assistance if the child meets one or more of the following circumstances, courtesy of NACAC.
- Noted emotional, physical, or mental issues.
- Siblings of two or more being placed for adoption in the same home at the same time.
- A child 2 years of age or older.
- Due to underlining issues in the past, the child is likely to suffer emotional, physical, or mental struggles in the future.
Indiana Adoption Advertising Laws
Adoption advertising is defined as using a public medium to express an interest in adopting a child or sharing that a child is available for adoption either by print or electronically.
Common means of advertising include:
- Printed Flyers
Citation: Ann. Code § 35-46-1-21: Adoption Advertising in Indiana
In the state of Indiana, only a licensed attorney in Indiana or a licensed child-placing agency may place an advertisement for any of the following:
- A child who is up for adoption or wanted for adoption
- A person is available to place, locate, or receive a child for adoption
A person who intentionally violates this section commits unauthorized adoption advertising, a level 6 felony.
A federal agency, the Indiana Department of Child Services, or an Indiana resident seeking to adopt a child on his or her behalf is the exception to this and is allowed to advertise.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Birth Parent Expenses in Indiana
In all states, no person or agency is allowed to accept payment for assisting, placing, or organizing the placement of a child, as this is illegal.
Title 35-46-1-9: Profiting from Adoption
The state of Indiana allows for the following items to be covered by the adoptive parents:
- Attorney fees
- Living expenses such as housing and utilities
- Travel expenses
- Maternity expenses
- Wages lost due to the birth mother’s time off of work due to the birth of the baby
What do you do, though, if said expenses are paid and the birth mother changes her mind in the end? Adoption Disruption insurance is available for adoptive parents to protect them from such a misfortune for those adopting domestically.
Accessing Adoption Records in Indiana
The following parties can request and receive adoption records:
- An adult adoptee
- A birth parent
- An adoptive parent
- The spouse or relative of a deceased adoptee
- The spouse or relative of a deceased birth parent
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 31-19-17-3; 31-19-17-5: Access to Nonidentifying Information
Information such as social, medical, psychological, and educational records may be released to the prospective adoptive parent or adoptive parent.
Information that would identify the birth parents shall be excluded from the report unless an adoptee already knows the identity of the birth parents.
Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 31-19-21-1; 31-19-25-3; 31-19-25-4.6: Mutual Access to Identifying Information
An adoptee who is at least age 21 or an adoptive parent of an adoptee who is less than age 21 may consent to the release of identifying information concerning the adoptee in signed writing. The consent must identify the persons to whom the information may be released.
Birth parents may object and restrict access to their identifying information by filing a contact preference form with the State registrar that indicates the birth parent’s lack of consent to the release of identifying information.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
Post Adoption Contact Laws in Indiana
Adoptive parents have a right to decide who has contact with their adopted child and when. Many times in an open adoption, the adoptive parents and the birth family have a mutual and informal agreement regarding contact with the adopted child.
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-19-16-3; 31-19-16-9: What may be included in postadoption contact agreements?
A postadoption contact agreement must contain the following:
- 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.
- Is not enforceable.
- May include contact through photographs, written and verbal updates, and other forms of communication.
- Does not have to be in writing.
- Does not affect the validity of a consent to an adoption, a waiver of notice, or the finality of the adoption.
Courtesy of ChildWelfare.gov.
When are Adoption Birth Certificates Issued in Indiana?
When your adoption is finalized, court proceedings should immediately include beginning the process of obtaining a new birth certificate for the adopted child that reflects the child’s new last name and adoptive parents.
Do not hesitate to ask your adoption attorney or adoption agency if you need to initiate that process, or if the courts will do that on your behalf.
DISCLAIMER: The above state law information is provided to our readers as a courtesy and is meant to help offer some insight as to what to expect during your adoption journey. This information is not meant to be viewed as legal advice. In addition, possible changes to state laws may have taken place since the publishing of this article in July 2021.