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Father’s consent not necessary for adoption to proceed

September 7, 2012

Adoptive parents did not have to get the biological father’s consent to adopt his minor child, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

The adoptive parents filed a petition to adopt the child, L.H., and claimed the father’s consent was not necessary on three grounds: He had failed to communicate significantly with L.H. for one year, had failed to support L.H. for one year and was an unfit parent.

Evidence presented to the trial court showed that father J.H. has a long history of depression and substance abuse. He has been reluctant to follow treatment advice for his mental health issues or drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, he has attempted suicide and has cut himself. Also, he has been arrested, lost his license and has had difficulty maintaining employment and stable housing.

In 2008, the adoptive parents became concerned about their grandson M.L. and his half-brother L.H. They obtained guardianship over the children which the father did consent to because of his inability to care for his son at that time. M.L. is not the biological child of J.H.

Since then, L.H. and M.L. have remained the grandparent’s care.

In granting the grandparents’ petition, the trial court found that the couple had established the grounds for dispensing with the father’s consent and that the adoption was in L.H.’s best interest.

The father appealed, arguing the evidence is insufficient to prove that his consent was not required and that adoption was in L.H.’s best interests.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in the case, In Re Adoption of M.L., 29A02-1201-AD-54. The COA ruled that since it found sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the father is not a fit parent, it did not need to address the court’s alternate ground for dispensing with the father’s consent.

The Court of Appeals affirmed that the evidence supported the conclusion that adoption is in L.H.’s best interest.

 

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