Single individuals and married couples may adopt. If a couple is married, both spouses must join in the petition to adopt, except in the case of a step or second parent adoption. Prospective adoptive parents must have a homestudy, which includes criminal, child abuse, FBI fingerprint, and sexual offender checks. For step parent and grandparent adoptions, the court may waive the requirement of a homestudy but not the criminal checks.
Indiana has a “residency requirement”, which means that only residents of Indiana may file a petition to adopt in Indiana. Non-residents of Indiana may adopt a child born in Indiana, but the adoption must be filed in their state of residence. Indiana waives the residency requirement for “hard to place” children. A child is “hard to place” if the child is disadvantaged because of race, ethnic origin, medical condition, age, or part of a sibling group.
Can adoptive parents advertise for birth parents? Yes, but agencies and attorneys who are not licensed in Indiana, may not advertise.
Can out-of-state residents finalize an adoption? Only for “hard-to place” children.
Can adopting parents use an adoption facilitator or another paid intermediary? Only the Dept. of Child Services, the Division of Family Resources, a child-placing agency licensed in Indiana, an attorney licensed in Indiana, or a birth parent or pre-adoptive parent acting on his or her own behalf may have a role in placing a child.
What birth parent expenses may be paid, and in what time period? Medical, legal, counseling, living (housing, utilities, maternity clothing, pregnancy/adoption related travel, other necessary. $4,000 max. unless approved by court). Lost wages if job loss due to pregnancy, but offset by living expenses and unemployment benefits. 2nd or 3rd trimester to 6 weeks postpartum. Adoption deception by birth mother is crime punishable by jail time, restitution.
Is there a putative father registry? Yes.
When can consent to adoption be granted? Birth mother: Any time after birth; birth father: Any time.
When does consent become irrevocable? If consent is revoked, is return to birth parent automatic? Upon signing, if birth father signs before birth and it contains the statutorily prescribed language. Upon signing, but with a 30-day window to file a petition to withdraw consent, if signed after birth. After notice to adoptive parents, birth parent must prove it is in the child’s best interest to withdraw consent. If birth parent confirms consent for the court, he/she loses the right to petition. Return not automatic.
Are post-adoption contact agreements legally enforceable? Yes, for children two or older. Enforcement is under the jurisdiction of the court.
Is a foreign adoption decree automatically recognized by the state? Yes, a decree within or outside the U.S. is recognized by Indiana as long as the adoption decree is issued under due process of law after any Indiana court clerk files and enters the decree upon the order book.
Can parents readopt in this state? Is it mandatory? Not addressed in state statutes.
When will a U.S. birth certificate be issued? Not addressed in state statutes.
Are adoption subsidies available? When do they start and how long do they last? Yes, adoption subsidies are available for a hard-to-place child, who is generally defined by one of the following: 2 years or older, member of a sibling group of two or more, has or is at high risk for developing a medical, physical, mental, or emotional condition at time of adoption petition as documented by a licensed professional. Assistance begins when adoption is finalized. Child must be in the custody of the state of Indiana.
Where can I learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care in Indiana? www.in.gov/dcs/adoption
Is there an adoption registry? Yes, the Indiana State Department of Health, Vital Statistics maintains the Indiana Adoption History Registry.
Who may access information about an adoption? Adult adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, and the spouse or relatives of a deceased adoptee or birth parent may request the release of identifying information. Adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents, and adoptees age 21 or older may request nonidentifying and medical information.
Who may apply for an adoptee’s original birth certificate (OBC)? Original birth certificates may only be requested by a child adopted by a stepparent or as provided in statutes pertaining to release of identifying information.
Lisa Juday, MSW
Residential Licensing Consultant, Indiana Department of Child Services
Program Manager: Sandra CaesarIndiana Department of Child Services
DISCLAIMER: The state laws and policies outlined above are offered to readers only for general information and do not constitute legal advice. Furthermore, the state laws were accurate at the time of compilation, but The Current Initiative cannot guarantee that there have been no subsequent changes or revisions to the laws. Please do not rely on the information above without first consulting an adoption attorney licensed in your state. Updated in January 2017.