On August 16, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order reversing an adoption in the case In RE the Matter of the Adoption of Minor Children: C.B.M. and C.R.M. This case painfully illustrates the perils of finalizing a “no consent” adoption while an appeal of a termination of parental rights (“TPR”) case is still pending, with the possibility that the TPR will be reversed. As Justice Rush succinctly states, in this case, “[t]hat is exactly what happened here, and we cannot unscramble that egg.” Because the adoption was based on the TPR judgment, the mother was entitled to set aside the adoption, as it was voidable under Indiana Trial Rule 60(B)(7) when the TPR was reversed on appeal.
The twins, C.B.M. and C.R.M., were removed from their mother’s care when they were eighteen months old, in January 2006, and found to be children in need of services (“CHINS”). In January 2008, TPR was granted, and the mother appealed. In July 2008, the adoption of the twins was finalized with the consent of the Department of Child Services (“DCS”). In September 2008, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the TPR judgment finding that DCS failed to meet its burden by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions that led to the removal of the twins had not been remedied. See Moore v. Jasper County Dept. of Child Services, 894 N.E.2d 218, 228-89 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008). Since that time (almost five years), the mother’s petition to set aside the adoption has been winding its way through the court system. The twins are now ten years old.
The Court offered guidance for how this case should proceed and how to avoid future cases of this nature. As for this case, the case is to be reset for contested hearing on the adoption pursuant to IC 31-19-9-8(a)(11), and the trial court may entertain motions for temporary custody pursuant to IC 31-19-2-13 until final judgment is entered.