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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ind. Law - Morgan County lesbian couple fight to keep child

Two papers today, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and the Evansville Courier & Press, carry this AP story by Deanna Martin, here and here, respectively. Some quotes:

INDIANAPOLIS - A lesbian couple from Morgan County has gone to the Indiana Court of Appeals to win the adoption of a 1-year-old girl approved by a judge in one county but denied by a judge in another.

The Morgan County Office of Family and Children placed the child with Becki Hamilton and Kim Brennan two days after the child was born in 2004, and asked the couple to consider adoption. Hamilton and Brennan have lived together for more than a decade and were qualified by the state as foster parents.

Morgan Circuit Judge Matthew Hanson was conducting hearings to terminate parental rights of the girl's birth mother when he learned that Hamilton and Brennan were living together and were not married. He ordered the Office of Family and Children last to look for a married couple to adopt the baby, instead. Court records show the judge's decision had nothing to do with Hamilton and Brennan as a same-sex couple, but with being unmarried.

The couple turned in January to adjacent Marion County in their bid to keep the girl, and Superior Court Judge Charles Dieter on April 21 granted the adoption, saying it was in the child's best interest to be with the couple.

When the couple petitioned to released the girl from her status as a ward of the Morgan County Office of Family and Children, Judge Hanson rejected it and ordered that she be moved to the custody of another couple.

Hamilton and Brennan, who have retained custody of the child during the legal battle, now are appealing those two orders by Hanson.

The Indiana Department of Child Services, which oversees the Morgan County office, says only married couples can file jointly for adoption: unmarried couples and individuals must apply as single parents. The state also argues that Dieter should not have ruled as he did in Marion County.

Here is the docket number to the case:
Case Number: 55 A 01 - 0506 - JV - 00289

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 15, 2005 07:20 AM
Posted to Indiana Law