STATEHOUSE (Feb. 5, 2021) – The House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee recently passed State Rep. Martin Carbaugh's (R-Fort Wayne) legislation that would help unite more children with adoptive families in Indiana.
Currently, adoptive parents must file a petition to adopt with a probate court in the county that the child resides. Carbaugh said this process puts potential adoptive children who live in counties with a higher number of cases at a disadvantage because the adoption turnaround time is much slower given the increased workloads on their county courts. Under Carbaugh's legislation, Hoosiers would have the ability to file a petition for adoption in any Indiana county, which could finalize the adoption process quicker.
Carbaugh said on average, adoptions in Indiana take nearly 900 days to complete, and there are various wait times in the state's 92 county courts depending on their work loads. In Allen County, the average time to adoption is 961 days, whereas in St. Joseph County – just three counties away – the average is 183 days, according to the FFY 2019 Court Performance Measures Report.
"Empowering adoptive parents with the ability to bring these children home quicker just makes sense," Carbaugh said. "Being able to file in another county where there may not be a large backlog means adoptions could be finalized sooner."
According to Carbaugh, Indiana lags behind the national average of 24 months for placement of children with an adoptive family, taking an average of 34.8 months.
"As adoptive parents, my wife and I know the process is generally long and filled with emotional ups and downs," Carbaugh said. "For us it was tough, but for children waiting to become part of a forever home, even one day longer is too much. This would help children move on with their lives, begin to heal from the past and become part of a family again."
According to Carbaugh, a court's jurisdiction would not be impacted by this legislation, it would simply create more venues for these cases to be heard.
The U.S. Administration of Children and Families recently ranked Indiana the top state in the nation for number of children adopted from foster care. There were 2,489 children adopted from DCS in fiscal year 2019.
State Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-Fort Wayne) represents House
District 81, which includes a portion of Allen County.
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