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Court denies rehearing in adoption case

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The Indiana Supreme Court won't reconsider its reversal of an adoption order granted to a New Jersey man of twin girls born by a surrogate in Indiana. In April, the high court ruled New Jersey resident S.M. failed to comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children in In the matter of adoption of infants H., Marion County Division of Children's Services v. S.M., No. 29S02-0904-CV-140.

The justices remanded with direction to comply with the compact and thereafter issue a further judgment accordingly. The order granting S.M. preliminary custody remained in effect pending completion of the directive and any other orders the trial court may enter.

S.M. had filed a petition to adopt twin girls born in Indianapolis to a South Carolina woman who used donor eggs and sperm. After it was discovered S.M. wasn't an Indiana resident, he claimed the children were hard to place. The Department of Child Services became involved. Eventually the trial court entered a final decree of adoption, dismissed the CHINS case, and ruled consent to adoption by DCS wasn't required.

In the order denying rehearing released Tuesday, the justices noted that S.M.'s petition for rehearing asks for directives on multiple motions, requests, and objections recently filed in the trial courts by both parties. That activity seems to have been prompted partly by the Supreme Court's ruling but also because New Jersey's child protection authorities have initiated a CHINS proceeding and removed the children from S.M.'s care.

"While pendency of an appeal generally moves jurisdiction over a case from the trial court to the appellate court until a decision on appeal is certified, Petitioner's supplemental appendix reflecting the trial court's recent activity demonstrates that the court amply appreciates that its authority during such a period runs only to emergency matters," the order stated.

Chief Justice Randal T. Shepard and Justices Brent Dickson, Frank Sullivan, and Theodore Boehm concurred with the reasoning of the order. Justice Robert Rucker voted just to deny rehearing.

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