Adopting a baby can be as joyous a moment as bringing your own children into the world. But it is also a legal process that can be emotional, expensive, and wrought with worry.
Take the recent case in Indiana as an example. Fraternal twins were born to a mother identified as C.A.B. in 2004. The father's identity was never established.
Two years later, the children were removed from the biological mother's home and placed in foster care. In 2007, a Terminated Parental Rights (TPR) judgment was issued against the biological mother and a year later, the judgment was approved by the court.
The foster parents, eager for children of their own, petitioned to adopt the children and won in 2008 despite the fact that the biological mother's appeal of the TPR judgment was pending.
No one notified the biological mother about the adoption proceedings because state law didn't require notification when a TPR was pending.
Adoptive Parents Won - For Awhile
The court approved the foster's parents' petition for adoption. The new parents probably celebrated because after all, there was a court order in their favor and the children were living in their own home.
But the case was far from over.
Two months after the foster parents had their win in court, a Court of Appeals reversed the TPR judgment against the biological mother. The court stated that the biological mother had made positive changes in her life and that there was no convincing evidence that the twins' removal from her home had been necessary or had threatened their well-being in any way.
The adoptive parents entered the fray by objecting to the court's view.
Disputes in court about the twins' future ensued for three additional years. In 2009, the biological mother argued that statutes allowing the adoption to proceed during her TPR appeal unconstitutionally deprived her of her due process. But in 2011, the court denied her summary judgment motion.
Then on August 16, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that because the adoption was based on the original Terminated Parental Rights judgment, the biological mother was entitled to set aside the adoption when she prevailed in her TPR appeal.
Indiana Supreme Court Takes Due Process Seriously
The parties' dispute centered around two issues: the disagreement about whether the adoption could take place while the appeal of the TPR was pending and whether letting the adoption proceed without notifying the biological mother violated her due process rights.
Basically, the Indiana Supreme Court agreed with the biological mother.
But what's really at issue here? During the seven years of legal battles, the future of the twins was in limbo. They were taken from their biological mother, thought they would spend their lives with their adoptive parents, and then at the age of nine were eventually returned to the biological mother.
When considering adoption, parents need to determine how far they want to take the legal process and whether the fight will in the end benefit the children's lives.
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