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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.