Friday, April 10, 2009
An interesting case decided on Wednesday by the Indiana Supreme Court "[arose] from an order of adoption granted to a New Jersey resident for children brought to Indianapolis for their birth to a South Carolina woman who had been inseminated with biological material from California." There's a legal ethics aspect to the case.
The adoption involved twin girls and was initiated by petition filed by counsel on behalf of an unnamed male petitioner. A hearing was held on the day the petition was filed. Petitioner testified that he was born and resided in Indiana but working as a teacher in New Jersey. He further testified that his sperm was used (along with another donor) to inseminate the birth mother. The court indicated it would grant the petition for adoption.
The lawyer subsequently provided the court with a document that stated that the petitioner was born in New Jersey and that he had lived in New Jersey for the past ten years (his Indiana 'residence" had been a hotel). Hospital personnel raised concerns about petitioner's fitness after he brought a bird into the ICU (the twins were premature and remained in the hospital) and appeared there with bird feces on his clothes, causing serious health concerns. Further investigation revealed that other representations made in the petition were untrue, including the assertion that petitioner was the sperm donor.
The county Department of Child Services appealed the final decree of adoption granted to the petitioner. The court here reversed the final order based on non-compliance with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The grant of preliminary custody to petitioner remains in effect. The court noted that the adoption judge's "effort to deal with these successive shifting factual claims was understandably daunting" but does not otherwise suggest action against the attorney for the conduct of the litigation. (Mike Frisch)