There are many different kinds of adoption in Indiana. Our law firm handles all of them. Most adoptions fall into one of the following categories:
* Step parent adoption;
* Domestic newborn/infant adoption;
* Second parent adoption;
* Relative or grandparent adoption
* Foster parent adoptions (usually free of charge).
Step Parent Adoption
In many homes, a loving step parent may be the only mother or father a child knows and plays a significant and needed role in these child(ren)’s lives. In some cases, the next step for these families is for the step parent to legally adopt the child as their own. This grants the step parent legal parental rights. It allows the step parent to help make decisions for the child. These adoptions become particularly important should the unexpected occur. If something were to happen to the biological parent, legally the child would be given to the other biological parent (even if they are not involved), the next biological relative or even the State, rather than the step parent who has been a parental figure the child’s entire life. A step parent who does not adopt his stepchildren would not be able to obtain custody or have any parental rights and he or she would not be guaranteed any contact with the child.
At FRANCIS & BERRY DOMER, our lawyers advocate for step parents seeking to adopt their spouses’ children. We offer expert guidance in navigating the legal process in obtaining parental rights.
Our firm will help to resolve issues with the uninvolved biological parent and secure the consent for the adoption. Should any disputes arise or threaten to interfere with the process, we know how to overcome these issues and offer solutions for a positive outcome.
When a parent consents to a step parent adoption, the consenting parent’s child support obligation terminates upon the issuance of the Decree of Adoption.
Domestic Newborn/Infant Adoptions
In conjunction with our partnering adoption agency, Heartland Adoption Agency, Francis & Berry Domer has helped many caring couples and families expand their families with a new addition. We will handle all of the legal work necessary to complete your adoption and will help make the adoption process as painless as possible.
If you are already acquainted with a birth mother and know you would like to adopt, please call our firm at (812) 336-8300 to schedule a consultation. To inquire about being placed on an adoption wait list, please contact Heartland Adoption Agency at (812) 355-5437 or visit the website at http://www.heartlandadoptions.com/.
We have completed newborn and infant adoptions for single parents, gay and lesbian couples, non-married couples, families with and without children and mennonite and amish couples.
Second Parent Adoptions
Through a second parent adoption, a parental figure may legally adopt a child, even if he or she isn’t married to the legal or biological parent and even if they do not live in the same household as the child. This option is often a good solution for unmarried couples and also frequently helps a grandparent adopt his/her grandchild without the termination of their child’s parental rights. We have also done many adoptions where an involved aunt or uncle adopts a child when one of the biological parents has become uninvolved with the child.
The attorneys at FRANCIS & BERRY DOMER provide advocacy for couples who need a second parent adoption. We can handle all aspects of these adoptions, including termination of a biological parent’s parental rights. Other steps need to be taken before securing the second parent adoption, including a home study, background checks and other measures to ensure the child’s safety. Our partnering adoption agency, Heartland Adoption Agency, can often help you accomplish these steps for you. After these steps are completed, we can guide you through the process of filing the petition for adoption and represent you in the final court hearing.
Our lawyers are very familiar with the courts and have good relationships with area judges. We strive to complete the adoption process for clients as efficiently and effectively as possible and are skilled at preparing clients for every step in the legal process. We offer free consultation if you would like more information regarding this type of adoption.
Relative and Grandparent Adoptions
In some situations, a relative or grandparent may have assumed responsibility for a child and now wants legal authority to make decisions for the child, particularly in education and medical circumstances. While there are guardianship options available, it is often more effective to seek an adoption if the parent(s) will no longer be able to provide care to the child.
Regardless of the circumstances causing the relative or grandparent to seek adoption, our firm can provide the legal guidance needed to help the child become adopted. Unless the parent passed away, it will be necessary to get the legal parent to consent to the adoption or the court determine that their consent is not required. Our lawyers can handle these negotiations or proceedings. We often do grandparent adoptions where the biological parents have drug addiction issues or can not or will not pay child support to support their children, a/k/a deadbeat parents.
In cases where a relative or grandparent wants to assist with the raising of a child, but does not wish to adopt, we also offer assistance with guardianships which can be a temporary solution.
Foster Parent and DCS Adoptions (also called kinship or family placement adoptions)
Many foster parents have the honor of adopting their foster children when the biological parents are unable to comply with the requirements dictated by the Department of Child Services and the Court in the child’s CHINS case.
UNCONTESTED FOSTER PARENT ADOPTIONS. Sometimes the parent rights of the parents have been terminated by the court and sometimes the parents decide to consent to the adoption of their child(ren) by the Foster parent. In either case, these foster parent adoptions are considered “uncontested” adoptions because the parents and the Department of Child Services agree or consent to the adoption. The State of Indiana pays $1500.00 per child to attorneys to represent foster parents in these adoption. Our firm does not charge the foster parents any fees if they hire us to do an uncontested foster parent adoption so long as the adoption is in our area.
CONTESTED FOSTER PARENT ADOPTIONS. Foster parents may also successfully adopt a foster child even if the parents don’t consent (and haven’t been terminated) or the Department of Child Services does not consent. The success of these contested cases are very fact oriented. They require at least one and sometimes two or more contested hearings before the Judge. If you have had a foster child in your home for more than one year and would like to adopt the foster child but the Department does not agree or one or both of the parents does not agree and the parent’s rights have not been terminated, then we would like to meet with you. The starting fees for these types of cases is usually $5000.00. However, we will gladly meet with you without charge to determine the facts of the case and we will honestly inform you of what we believe your chances are of prevailing. We only take cases that we believe we can win. Please call our office at 812-336-8300 to schedule an appointment or to speak with either Don or Michelle.