An attorney who handled a contentious adoption case involving a New Jersey man who adopted twin girls born in Indianapolis to a surrogate mother has resigned his law license amid a disciplinary investigation.
The Indianapolis Star reports that Steven C. Litz's Dec. 17 resignation comes as the adoption case is pending in Hamilton County following a 2009 order by the Indiana Supreme Court, which overturned New Jersey resident Stephen Melinger's adoption of the now 10-year-old twins.
According to an Indiana Supreme Court order accepting his resignation, Litz's notice acknowledges the pending disciplinary action "involving allegations of misconduct and that (Litz) could not successfully defend himself if prosecuted."
He has declined to comment on his resignation, but says it "had nothing to do" with the adoption case.
Melinger originally sought Litz, who also operates Surrogate Mothers Inc., to arrange the surrogacy with a South Carolina woman. After the twins were born in 2005, Melinger adopted the pair in a Hamilton County proceeding.
The adoption case garnered attention after Melinger showed up at Methodist Hospital with a bird in his pocket, raising concerns among medical staff about his "ability to appropriately care for the infants." He also proposed to drive the premature infants back to New Jersey without assistance.
The staff contacted child services, which opened a child abuse-neglect probe. Marion County's Juvenile Court found that the adoption did not follow interstate adoption rules. The newborns were briefly placed in foster care.
Meanwhile the adoption case in Hamilton County continued with Litz representing Melinger. Questions arose about Melinger's claims that he lived in Indiana and was the provider of the sperm used to impregnate the surrogate. In the end, it was revealed that neither Melinger nor the surrogate mother had any biological ties to the children — they had been conceived with sperm and eggs from other donors.
The court ordered a trial period, placing the twins with Melinger. After he successfully completed the trial, the court approved the adoption.
After challenging and losing an adoption appeal, child services brought the case before the Indiana Supreme Court, which overturned the adoption because it did not comply with interstate adoption rules. The court asked that the process be redone in compliance with the rules.
"The court observed that the petition to adopt and (Litz's) subsequent submissions reflected 'lack of candor and mass confusion of crucial factors,' " Chief Justice Randall Shepard wrote in the unanimous decision to throw out the adoption.
Kathryn Dolan, chief public information officer for the Supreme Court, said no other details about the disciplinary case that prompted Litz's resignation are public records.
Litz was disciplined at least three times previously by the Supreme Court, according to court records.