Bill would send adoption notice to grandparents

By Shelby Mullis
TheStatehouseFile.com 

INDIANAPOLIS — Some Indiana grandparents could soon receive notification of a child’s adoption if one lawmaker’s bill continues to make strides.

The idea for House Bill 1245 came to Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, after what he calls a tragic case.

Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, introduces House Bill 1254 to the Senate Civil Law Committee Monday. Karickhoff called the bill, which passed the committee 7-0, a notice bill that would notify grandparents of a child’s pending adoption if the grandparent obtains a court order to seek visitation rights. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

“There was a positive relationship between grandparents and the parent remarried after the grandparents’ daughter had passed, and visitation was cut off,” Karickhoff said. “The grandparent did not realize at the time of the adoption her visitation would be cut off.”

Karickhoff said had the grandparent been notified, she would have had the opportunity to choose whether she wanted to petition the court for visitation.

HB 1245 is an effort to prevent similar cases, ultimately granting a notification of adoption to grandparents with existing rights to petition for visitation of their grandchild.

The notice would make grandparents aware of possible visitation termination if they choose to not go to court through a separate action to seek a visitation order.

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Margret Robb said the bill only serves as a “notice bill,” specifically for grandparents who, if they previously obtained a court order setting out their visitation rights, would continue to have those rights after an adoption.

“In summary, this bill is a piece of legislation designed to ensure fairness to grandparents so they know what their rights are with respect to their grandchildren,” she said. “It does not increase, decrease, alter or change those rights.”

Robb said notice would not be required in “stranger” adoptions, but only in adoptions through a stepparent and biologically related people, such as a sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

The bill passed the Senate Civil Law Committee unanimously 7-0 and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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