In the Matter of the Adoption of: K.M. B.M., Appellant-Defendant,
J.R. and M.R., Appellee-Plaintiff
Appeal from the Gibson Circuit Court. The Honorable Jeffrey F. Meade, Judge. Cause No. 26C01-1311-AD-015.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Jason Spindler, Spindler Law, Princeton, Indiana.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Michael R. Cochren, Princeton, Indiana.
Friedlander, Judge. Baker, J., and Najam, J., concur.
[¶1] B.C. (Mother) appeals from the trial court's order granting M.R.'s (Stepmother) verified petition for adoption. Mother presents two issues for our review:
1. Whether Ind. Code Ann. § 31-19-9-18 (West, Westlaw current with all legislation of the 2015 First Regular Session of the 119th General Assembly effective through March 24, 2015) is unconstitutional because it violates her due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution?
2. Whether Mother's efforts constituted sufficient notice of her objection to Stepmother's petition for adoption such that her efforts justify equitable tolling of the thirty-day statutory timeframe in which Mother was required to file a motion to contest the petition for adoption?
[¶2] Mother and J.R. (Father) are the biological parents of K.M. (Child), born on May 30, 2008. Father and Stepmother married on April 14, 2012. On November 12, 2013, Stepmother filed a verified petition for adoption of Child. Mother received personal service of the adoption petition in open court on January 9, 2014. The notice served upon Mother advised her that if she wanted to contest the adoption, she needed to " file a motion to contest the adoption in accordance with IC 31-19-10-1. . . not later than thirty (30) days after the date of service of this notice." Appellant's Appendix at 11.
[¶3] On February 14, 2014, the trial court held a hearing at which all relevant parties were present. During the hearing, Mother, who was not represented by counsel, admitted that she had not filed a written motion to contest the adoption. Mother explained to the court, however, that she tried to find out how to communicate her objection to Stepmother's adoption of Child by contacting the office of her attorney in an unrelated matter, conducting her own internet research, visiting the Gibson County Clerk's office in person, and contacting the trial court via a telephone call. The trial court nevertheless found that pursuant to statute, Mother's failure to contest Stepmother's adoption petition in writing within the appropriate ...