Monday, September 23, 2013
In a recent opinion handed down by the Supreme Court of Indiana, the adoption of twin children was set aside after a reversal of the termination of the birth mother’s parental rights. In re Adoption of C.B.M., ---N.E.2d ----, (Ind. 2013).
C.B.M. and C.R.M., fraternal twins who were determined to be children in need of services were removed from their natural mother’s home in 2006. Id. at *1. Approximately eighteen months later, the termination of parental rights (TPR) proceedings began and were granted six months later “over the strong objections of the twins’ guardian ad litem.” Id. The natural mother promptly appealed the judgment. Id. A few months later, the foster parents petitioned to adopt the children and the petition was granted approximately ten weeks after that. Id. However, after a couple of months had passed, the court of appeals reversed the judgment terminating the birth mother’s parental rights. Id.
The dispute in the supreme court centered on two issues: “whether the adoption mooted Natural Mother’s TPR appeal because of her failure to seek a stay of the TPR judgment pending appeal,” and “whether letting the Twins be adopted without Natural Mother’s notice or consent violated her Due Process rights.” Id. at *3. The court considered the situation “no-win” but eventually concluded that the “no-consent adoption that followed on [the] heels” of the TPR judgment “became voidable;” thus the trial court abused its discretion in failing to set aside the adoption. Id. at *8.
The Indiana Supreme Court held that the birth mother was not required to file a stay of the TPR action “to preserve a meaningful appellate remedy” and that the birth mother was “entitled to relief from the adoption judgment when the TPR was ‘reversed or otherwise vacated’ on appeal.” Id. at *5-6.
For the text of the opinion, click here.