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COA rules natural parents’ consent unnecessary in adoption

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Once a trial court found a child’s natural parents to be unfit, the court did not need to revisit that finding at an adoption hearing, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

The mother and father of J.M. lost custody of her and the mother’s three older children after the Indiana Department of Child Services removed the minors to foster care because of the natural parents’ continued alcohol and drug abuse, along with incidents of domestic violence.

Eventually, the paternal grandparents filed a petition for guardianship of J.M. and the natural parents consented. However, the foster parents objected to the grandparents’ petition and filed a petition to adopt J.M. The grandparents followed with a competing petition of adoption.

 After a consent hearing, the trial court determined the natural parents were unfit and their consent was unnecessary.

Proceeding to the adoption hearing, the trial court granted the foster parents’ petition for adoption.

The natural parents appealed the court’s decision that their consent was unnecessary.

In In the Matter of the Adoption of J.M.: J.P. and J.M. v. R.H. and R.H., 82A01-1309-AD-404, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

The Court of Appeals rejected the natural parents’ argument that the trial court erred when it did not consider their fitness at the time of the consent and adoption hearings. Pointing to the mother’s and father’s continued difficulty with alcohol and lack of insight on the negative effects that alcohol has had on their lives, the COA panel found the trial court did not err by concluding they were unfit at the consent hearing.

“As for the adoption hearing, the Natural Parents’ argument that the trial court should have reevaluated their fitness at that time is merely a request for a second bite at the proverbial apple,” Judge John Baker wrote for the court. “Once the trial court concluded that the Natural Parents were unfit at the consent hearing, as stated above, the effect was the termination of their parental rights.”

 

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  1. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

  2. The Indiana DOE released the 2015-2016 school grades in Dec 2016 and my local elementary school is a "C" grade school. Look at the MCCSC boundary maps and how all of the most affluent neighborhoods have the best performance. It is no surprise that obtaining residency in the "A" school boundaries cost 1.5 to 3 times as much. As a parent I should have more options than my "C" school without needing to pay the premium to live in the affluent parts of town. If the charter were authorized by a non-religious school the plaintiffs would still be against it because it would still be taking per-pupil money from them. They are hiding behind the guise of religion as a basis for their argument when this is clearly all about money and nothing else.

  3. This is a horrible headline. The article is about challenging the ability of Grace College to serve as an authorizer. 7 Oaks is not a religiously affiliated school

  4. Congratulations to Judge Carmichael for making it to the final three! She is an outstanding Judge and the people of Indiana will benefit tremendously if/when she is chosen.

  5. The headline change to from "religious" to "religious-affiliated" is still inaccurate and terribly misleading.

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