Senate Bill 22 would authorize a juvenile court, probate court, or the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) to approve one final visit between the parent and the child following the termination of the parent’s parental rights, unless the parent has been convicted of a sex offense or a Level 1-5 felony against the child. Any approved final visit would have to occur less than ten days from the date that the parental rights were terminated.
This bill would formalize a process that occurs now at the discretion of the court and DCS in some termination of parent rights (TPR) and adoption cases. Sometimes, it can be helpful to both the child and the parent to have this moment of closure. In other cases, a final visit may be detrimental to the welfare of the child, especially when the parent has had little or no contact with the child during the course of the CHINS and TPR cases, or when the parent is too unstable to handle the visit appropriately due to profound mental illness or substance abuse. Note that it is also possible to terminate parental rights in delinquency cases, but very rare.
SB 22 would give the court and DCS the formal authority to evaluate the needs of the child and possibly grant the parent this final wish.