Termination of Biological Parental Rights in Indiana Adoption Proceedings

When a child is adopted in Indiana, it severs the parental rights of the biological parents and transfers those rights to the adoptive parents. Termination of parental rights is a serious matter that the Indiana courts do not take lightly by any means. The courts’ goal is to ensure the child’s wellbeing is advocated for and that they are in a situation that is in their best interest. This blog examines the termination of biological parental rights in adoption proceedings in Indiana. 

Adoption in Indiana follows a specific statutory scheme and thus terminating parental rights has its own requirements. Through the adoption process, the biological parents can voluntarily terminate their parental rights through the process of consent. Consent in adoption is a complex and important process in adoption proceedings. The Indiana Code 31-19-9-1 provides that, “…a petition to adopt a child who is less than eighteen (18) years of age may be granted only if written consent to adoption has been executed…” Consent is just one crucial step in the entire process, but it is through consent that the biological parents consent to the adoption of the child. The execution of their consent to adoption will terminate their parental rights and place the parental rights with the adopting parents. Consent is not always required and you can find this in the Indiana Code 31-19-9-8, which lays out, “consent to adoption, which may be required under section 1 of this chapter, is not required from any of the following: a parent or parents of the child is adjudged to have been abandoned or deserted for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the filing of the petition for adoption.” Further, “a parent of a child in the custody of another person if for a period of at least one (1) year the parent: (A) fails without justifiable cause to communicate significantly with the child when able to do so; or (B) knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree.” There are more circumstances laid out in this statute that are important to note when consent is not required in adoption proceedings. Due to the rigorous statutory schemes, it is helpful to seek legal counsel when determining whether or not you are following the requirements accordingly.

Once the consent requirements have been executed, I.C. 31-19-15-1 lays out the effect. Pursuant to I.C. 31-19-15-1, “(a) [e]xcept as provided in section 2 of this chapter or IC 31-19-16, if the biological parents of an adopted person are alive, the biological parents are: (1) relieved of all legal duties and obligations to the adopted child; and (2) divested of all rights with respect to the child; and the parent-child relationship is terminated after the adoption unless the parent-child relationship was terminated by an earlier court action, operation of law, or otherwise.” Upon the court’s granting of the adoption petition, the biological parent’s parental rights over the child are terminated.  

Terminating parental rights in adoption matters has a detailed process that must be done appropriately to ensure that the adoption is legal. It is clear that there are many circumstances and evidence the court considers when making a determination in adoption cases. One essential tip for managing this process is seeking guidance from a competent attorney. The attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. have a comprehensive background in adoption proceedings throughout Indiana. We are here to help you navigate through the adoption process and termination of parental rights. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. and this blog is not intended as specific legal advice or solicitation of services as this is an advertisement.


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