Traditionally, the adoption of a child severs the parental rights for both biological parents. Indiana law provides for second parent adoptions, which allows one of the biological parents to retain their parental rights after the adoption is finalized. This is most commonly seen when the biological parent’s spouse, the child’s stepparent, adopts their stepchild. Both the biological parent and the stepparent will have parental rights after the finalization of the adoption. However, Indiana law does not limit second parent adoptions to stepparents. In Indiana, unmarried persons are able to obtain a second parent adoption. This allows someone other than a stepparent to adopt child without severing the parental rights of one of the biological parents.
In 2010, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that a grandfather could adopt his grandchild without divesting the biological mother of her parental rights. The grandfather’s adoption of his grandchild only divested the biological father, who was absent from the child’s life, of his parental rights. This case has been used to allow unmarried and unrelated individuals who have acted as a caregiver to the child to adopt the child without divesting both parents of their parental rights. The adoptive parent is not required to live with the child or the biological parent. The adoptive parent is also not required to be in a relationship with the biological parent. The important consideration is that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Indiana policy favors a child being adopted by a loving caregiver when a biological parent is absent or unfit.
A second parent adoption provides full parental rights to the adoptive parent. The adoptive parent will be as equal of a parent to the child as the biological parent. The adoptive parent will be entitled to parenting time or custody, if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child, and be obligated to provide for the child just as the biological parent is required.
If you are considering a second parent adoption for a child in your life, contact the experienced attorneys at Slotegraaf Niehoff, P.C. for assistance through the adoption process.