The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed the grant of an adoption petition by a child’s paternal grandparents, finding the matter was surrounded by irregular and fraudulent circumstances.
In In Re the Adoption of M.P.S., Jr.; A.S. v. M.P.S., Sr., M.S., and An.S., No. 88A01-1108-AD-387, mother A.S. appealed the grant of adoption of her son by M.S. and An. S., the mother and stepfather of M.P.S. Sr., who is the father of M.P.S. Jr. The boy was born out of wedlock to the young parents, who married and then lived in Virginia before moving to Indiana to live with the father’s mother and stepfather. At some point the parents moved back to Virginia with their son to live with M.P.S. Sr.’s father and stepmother, but eventually moved back to Indiana and lived with the grandparents.
M.S. and An. S. sought to adopt M.P.S. Jr. The parents met with the grandparents’ attorney, but did not have their own attorney. The parents signed consent for the adoption, which was notarized by the attorney, but her notary commission had recently expired. She also advised the parents the consents were revocable up until the adoption hearing.
The parents were to go to Virginia to take a sibling of M.P.S. Sr. so the sibling could live with his parent in Virginia. M.P.S. Sr. quickly moved up the trip so that he and his wife would be out of town during the adoption hearing. They had not received notice of the hearing. While in Virginia, M.P.S. Sr. left A.S. behind in the middle of the night. While she was gone, she learned her son had been adopted. M.P.S. Sr. continued to live with his mother and stepfather.
The COA reversed, finding numerous procedural errors, involuntariness and fraud upon the court. It appeared the trip was planned to keep the mother from withdrawing her consent. Also, at the hearing, the grandparents testified that the child had lived with them his whole life, which was incorrect.
In addition, A.S. signed her consent for adoption under the premise that her living conditions would not change and she would continue to live with her son.
The judges remanded with instructions to vacate the adoption decree and to comply with Indiana Code 31-14-13-1, which vests sole legal custody of a child born out of wedlock to the biological mother.