Same-sex couples in Indiana may be surprised to learn that Indiana’s adoption statutes, as interpreted by the Indiana Court of Appeals, allow unmarried couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to file joint petitions for adoption. The legislature may have prohibited same-sex marriage (Ind. Code §31-11-1-1), but it has not done the same for parenthood. In the case of In re Infant Girl W., 845 N.E. 2d 229, 244 (Ind.Ct.App.2006), the Indiana Court of Appeals held that “there is simply nothing in the Adoption Act suggesting that it [the legislature] intends to preclude all unmarried couples from adopting.”
Here’s how they got there – just 5 easy steps:
1. Indiana Code states that both adults and minors may be adopted by “a resident of Indiana.” Ind. Code § 31-19-2-1 and 31-19-2-2(a).
2. Rules of statutory construction allow for words used in the singular to be interpreted as also including the plural version. Infant Girl W. at 242.
3. So, the Court of Appeals reasoned, if a singular resident can adopt, then residents can, too. Id. at 242. The Court of Appeals pointed to adoption by married couples as support for this interpretation.
4. The adoption statutes do lay out certain requirements that married couples must following when petitioning to adopt, namely that both the husband and wife have to join in the Petition for Adoption. Ind. Code § 31-19-2-4.
5. But, the Court of Appeals held, “it does not follow that in placing this requirement upon a married couple, the legislature was simultaneously denying an unmarried couple the right to petition jointly.” Infant Girl W. at 243.
You can also file a petition for a “second parent” adoption if your partner already has children, biological or adopted. In re Adoption of M.M.G.C., 785 N.E.2d 267 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003); In re Adoption of K.S.P., 804 N.E.2d 1253 (Ind.Ct.App. 2004). If you and your partner are interested in adopting a child together or you are seeking to become a legal parent of your partner’s child(ren) , please contact our office to learn more!