Know your judge. Adoption court hearings differ widely. Most are uncontested and informal. In those cases, you can anticipate a positive experience, brief and happy for you and your new child.
If, however, the adoption is contested, you must be prepared to argue your desire. Select your attorney with care. Use the wise counsel of other adoptive parents who have been pleased with their legal representation. Your attorney will be important, not only in court, but in negotiating the best adoption subsidy possible with the DCS.
Know the law. You and your attorney should have copies of any relevant DCS policies and laws relevant to your arguments to quote and show the judge.
Speak up in court. Be brief but don’t be shy. And stay positive. State clearly why you believe that the child will prosper in your home. Avoid complaining or badmouthing the opposing party.
What you have to say and how you present your family to the judge will be very important. Write your remarks out in advance. Practice giving your arguments with a friend before appearing in court.
In a disputed adoption, it may be wise to bring friends and neighbors with you as witnesses who can attests to your good parenting. If you have had the child in your care for six months or more, a Bonding Evaluation can be quite helpful.
“Bonding is a significant reciprocal attachment which both parties want and expect to continue and which is interrupted or terminated at peril to the parties involved.” Humans bond by sharing important life events such as eating, sleeping, and playing together over time. Research provides four objective and strong criteria that are all reflected in federal law and Indiana DCS policies. They are: Time spent together; the Behavior of the Child; Reciprocal Attachment; and Family Identification. They can all be documented in a thorough Bonding Evaluation.
Good luck in court!