If you live in the Hoosier State and are considering adoption, either as an expectant mother or prospective adoptive parents, you are likely wondering the same thing: how does adoption work in Indiana?
The following guide provides all the Indiana adoption information you need, from the qualifications for adoptive parents to the rules and regulations for placing a child for adoption in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and beyond.
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Adopting a Child in Indiana
There are many state laws and regulations in place to protect growing families and prospective birth parents throughout the adoption process. If you are considering adopting a child in Indiana, it is important to understand adoption qualifications and processes in your state. Below, find the information you need to adopt a child in Indiana.
What are the laws and qualifications for adopting a child in Indiana?
Any resident of Indiana may adopt, and nonresidents may adopt hard-to-place children. A husband and wife must adopt jointly, except in stepparent adoptions.
What adoption expenses can be paid by adoptive families in Indiana?
Prospective adoptive families in Indiana may pay for the following adoption expenses and services:
- Attorney fees
- Hospital and medical costs for the birth mother
- Counseling for the birth parents
- Travel expenses
- Living expenses, including maternity clothes, housing, utilities and phone service after the first trimester
- Reimbursement of any wages lost during the birth mother’s pregnancy due to a medical condition
- Additional living expenses as approved by the court
Compensation for lost wages will be offset by the living expenses paid and any unemployment compensation the mother is receiving. Total expenses cannot exceed $3,000 unless approved by the court. After the child’s birth, payment of living expenses cannot extend beyond six weeks and cannot exceed $1,000.
All payments must be disclosed to the court.
What are the laws to become a foster parent in Indiana?
Prospective foster parents in Indiana must complete a licensing packet issued by the county, attend 10 hours of training, and pass criminal background checks and the home study process prior to placement.
What are the requirements to finalize an international adoption in Indiana?
When a child is adopted outside of Indiana under the laws of the state or country where the adoption took place, the adoption will have full force and effect when the adoption decree is filed with the clerk of the court of any county in Indiana.
Is it legal to use advertising or facilitators to adopt in Indiana?
Only a licensed attorney or licensed child-placing agency may advertise in connection with an adoption in Indiana. A person that knowingly or intentionally provides or facilitates any of the following adoption services is committing unauthorized adoption facilitator, a misdemeanor:
- Identifying a child for adoption
- Arranging an adoption placement
- Matching adoptive and birth parents
- Acknowledging a birth parent’s consent to adoption
- Performing background checks on adoptive parents, making determinations of the child’s best interests and providing post-placement monitoring before the adoption is finalized
The following are permitted to provide the above adoption services:
- The Department of Child Services
- The Division of Family Resources
- A licensed child-placing agency
- An attorney
- A birth parent or adoptive parent acting on his or her own behalf
Laws, Rules and Qualifications for Placing a Baby for Adoption in Indiana
To start the adoption process as a prospective birth parent, it can be helpful to understand state laws and your rights throughout the process. If you are living in Indiana and considering an adoption plan for your baby, this section will help answer your questions about the adoption process, birth father rights, consent and more.
When and how can birth parents consent to the adoption?
In Indiana, consent can be given any time after the child’s birth. The child’s father may consent before the baby is born if the consent is in writing, is signed before a notary public and contains an acknowledgment that the consent is irrevocable and he will not receive notice of the adoption proceedings.
Consent may be executed in the presence of the court, a notary public or other person authorized to take acknowledgements, or an authorized agency of the department, a county office of family and children or a licensed child-placing agency.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In an Indiana adoption, consent must be given by:
- The child’s mother
- The child’s father, if he has established paternity or is married to the mother
- Any person, agency or county office of family and children that has custody of the child
- The spouse of the person to be adopted, if he or she is married
- The child, if he or she is 14 or older
When is consent not needed?
Consent is not necessary when:
- A parent has abandoned the child for at least six months prior to filing the petition for adoption
- A parent fails for a period of at least one year to communicate or provide for the child when he or she is able to do so
- The child is born out of wedlock and the father has not established paternity
- The child was conceived as a result of rape, child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor or incest
- The child’s father failed to register with the putative father registry or established paternity after an adoption petition was filed
- A parent’s right to consent was relinquished or terminated
- A parent is declared incompetent or mentally defective
- A legal guardian has unreasonably failed to consent
- A parent has been found to be unfit
- A father denied paternity before or after the birth of the child
- A parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes against the child’s other parent:
- Murder, causing suicide or voluntary manslaughter
- Attempting to commit any of the above crimes
- A parent has been convicted of the following crimes against another child of the parent:
- Murder, causing suicide or voluntary manslaughter
- Rape, child molestation or incest
- An attempt to commit any of the above crimes
When does the birth parents’ consent become irrevocable?
Consent may be withdrawn within 30 days of signing if the court finds that the person withdrawing consent is acting in the best interests of the child. Consent is irrevocable after the entry of the adoption decree. A father who gives consent before the child is born cannot challenge or contest the adoption.
What rights does the father of the baby have in Indiana adoptions?
To protect his rights to receive notice of adoption proceedings for a child, a man should file with the putative father registry established by the State Department of Health. Any man who may have conceived a child for whom a petition for adoption has been or may be filed should register before the child’s mother consents to the adoption.
Alternatively, a paternity affidavit may be executed by the child’s mother and biological father acknowledging the paternity of the child within 72 hours of birth. A paternity affidavit may not be executed after the child’s mother has consented to adoption and an adoption petition has been filed. A man who completes a paternity affidavit may file a court action to request a genetic test within 60 days of executing the affidavit.
Home Study and Post-Placement Requirements in Indiana
The home study is one of the most important steps on any journey to becoming an adoptive family. Each state has different home study processes, qualifications and requirements to ensure an adoptive home is safe and suitable for a child.
The following information will help you understand Indiana home study requirements and help you prepare your home and family for the process.
What is included in the Indiana home study process?
The home study report will address the suitability of the home for a child and must be accompanied by criminal history and child abuse records checks. The report will not contain any information regarding the prospective parents’ financial situation.
Who is included in the home study process?
Any adult members of the prospective adoptive family must be included in the study.
Who will conduct the home study?
The home study will be completed by a licensed child-placing agency or the county office of family and children.
On what grounds will the home study not be approved in Indiana?
This issue is not addressed in Indiana statutes. Contact your county office of family and children or a local adoption or foster care professional for more information.
When should the home study be completed?
When an adoption petition is filed with the court, the court will refer the case to the appropriate agency to complete the home study investigation and report. The written home study report must be submitted to the court within 60 days of the referral.
What are the post-placement study requirements for Indiana adoptions?
Every adoption placement will be followed by a period of supervision by a licensed child-placing agency or county office of family and children. The length of the supervisory period is within the sole discretion of the court.
What are the home study requirements for stepparent or relative adoptions in Indiana?
The court may waive home study and post-placement supervision requirements if the prospective adoptive parent is a stepparent or grandparent of the child.
What are the requirements to adopt a child that is currently in my care?
This issue is not addressed in Indiana statutes. For more information about foster care and foster-to-adopt placements in Indiana, visit the state Department of Child Services.
To start the home study process, contact one of these trusted Indiana home study providers:
- Protect Our Children, Inc.
Protect Our Children preforms domestic and international home studies for adoptive couples throughout Indiana.
- Adoptions & Family Support Network
Adoptions & Family Support Network, Inc. is a nonprofit, licensed child-placing agency that offers home study services for domestic, international, stepparent, relative and special needs adoptions in Indiana.
- KidsFirst International Adoption, Inc.
KidsFirst International Adoption, Inc. is a Hague-accredited agency and performs home studies throughout the state of Indiana.
- All Blessings International (IN)
All Blessings International is a Christian, nonprofit, Hague-accredited adoption agency that provides home study services to families in Indiana.
Indiana Adoption Professionals
To start the adoption process or learn more about adoption in Indiana, contact an adoption professional serving your area:
- American Adoptions
- Adoptions of Indiana
- KidsFirst Adoption
- St. Elizabeth Coleman Pregnancy & Adoption Services
- Adoption Support Center
- Adoption Center for Family Building
- Adoption Connections
- Miriam Project
- Gifts of Grace Adoption
- A Bond of Life Adoptions
For more information about foster care in Indiana, visit the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Things to do in Indiana
If your adoption journey leads you to meet prospective birth parents or wait for ICPC approval in the Hoosier state, be sure to take advantage of all Indiana has to offer:
- Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis)
- Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo (Fort Wayne)
- Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari (Santa Claus)
- University of Notre Dame (South Bend)
- Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hall of Fame Museum (Indianapolis)
- Turkey Run State Park (Marshall)
Find more information about traveling to Indiana at https://visitindiana.com/.