Mom who placed child for adoption can’t claim custody 13 years later

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A biological mother and father who consented to the adoption of their child cannot 13 years later seek custody. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court ruling to that effect Friday, finding that to rule otherwise would “lead to a patently absurd result in this case and potentially many others.”

In the Harrison County case J.R. and C.R. v. S.P. and D.P, 31A04-1706-DC-1284, biological mother C.R. and her husband, J.R., filed a motion seeking custody of C.R.’s biological daughter, A.P. The biological mother had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights 13 years earlier when she consented to A.P.’s adoption the day after giving birth in 2003. The biological and adoptive parents did not enter into an agreement regarding post-adoption contact between A.P. and her biological mom.

In February, C.R. and her husband filed a petition seeking custody of A.P. They alleged they had been in contact with A.P., and that there were conflicts between the child and parents, who planned to relocate. The petition claimed awarding custody to the C.R. and her husband would be in A.P.’s best interests.

Judge Rudy Pyle wrote for the panel that C.R.’s petition ran counter to persuasive statutory and case law.

“Biological Mother’s parent-child relationship with A.P. was irretrievably terminated when the decree of adoption was entered in March 2004. At that time, Biological Mother was divested of all rights with respect to A.P. We agree with the trial court that Biological Mother cannot now circumvent this law ‘under the guise of a non-parent third party.’

“The acceptance of Biological Mother’s argument would lead to a patently absurd result in this case and potentially in many others. Under her argument, all parents who had either voluntarily relinquished their parental rights or had those rights involuntarily terminated could use (I.C. 31-17-2-3) to potentially revive those previously divested rights” Pyle wrote. “This would create the 'unnecessary instability and uncertainty' that (I.C. 31-19-15-1) was enacted to prevent. Further, in this case, it would also be absurd to allow Biological Mother to use her husband to revive these divested rights. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting Parents’ motion to dismiss.”

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