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Guardian ad Litem Success Story 14

Kids’ Voice Guardian ad Litem was able to obtain a permanent adoptive home for young girl in need to stable family life.

Haley was adopted at the age of three by her paternal aunt and uncle, Amy and Jeff. Haley’s birth mother consented to Haley’s adoption, but Haley’s birth father, Brian, contested the adoption. The Probate Court judge found that Brian’s consent to Haley’s adoption was not needed because he had not paid child support. When Haley was five years old, the Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s order granting the adoption. The Appellate Court found that Amy and Jeff had not presented sufficient evidence that Brian, who was frequently incarcerated, had enough income to pay child support. Kids’ Voice was appointed as GAL for Haley when Amy and Jeff petitioned to adopt Haley for the second time. Katie, the Kids’ Voice attorney, assigned the case to an experienced GAL attorney volunteer who had represented clients in adoption cases. The court appointed an attorney to represent Brian in the adoption, as required by Indiana law. The GAL contacted Amy at work and learned that Haley had not been informed that her adoption had been overturned. After interviewing Amy at her place of employment, the GAL visited with Haley and her family, observed Haley’s adjustment, and gathered additional information on her schooling and activities. The GAL visited Haley at her daycare center/private kindergarten and interviewed Haley’s teacher. The teacher said that Haley was performing at a high level academically but had some difficulty playing well with other children. The GAL interviewed Haley’s adoption agency social worker, read the adoption agency files, and interviewed Brian and his parents and grandparents at their homes.

The GAL reviewed information provided by the Kids’ Voice GAL Program legal assistant, Colie, about Brian’s history of arrests and criminal convictions. The GAL obtained information from Brian about his employment history. The GAL concluded that the adoption of Haley by Amy and Jeff was in Haley’s best interests. The GAL found substantial evidence that Brian’s consent to the adoption was not needed because he had failed to pay child support for a year while he was employed and had few expenses.

While employed, Brian lived with his parents, who provided his meals and allowed him to drive their car to work. The GAL wrote a report for the Court recommending Haley’s adoption, and Katie filed the report. Before the Court hearing, Katie learned from Brian’s attorney that Brian had been arrested and was in the county jail awaiting trial for armed robbery. The GAL volunteer arranged to visit Brian at jail with his court-appointed attorney for the adoption case. Brian explained that he was expecting to be sentenced to fifteen years at the Department of Correction, and he had decided it was not fair to Haley to be denied an adoptive home. Brian consented to Haley’s adoption by Amy and Jeff, and the probate court granted Amy’s and Jeff’s petition to adopt Haley. Haley has a permanent adoptive home where she is thriving.