In Re the Adoption and Paternity of K.A.W. J.R.C., Appellant-Respondent,
J.C. and D.C., Appellees-Petitioners
from the Harrison Circuit Court The Honorable John T. Evans,
Judge Trial Court Cause Nos. 31C01-1602-AD-5 31C01-1512-JP-35
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Joseph Leon Payne Payne Law Office,
LLC Austin, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Matthew J. McGovern Anderson, Indiana
J.R.C. (Putative Father) appeals the trial court's order
dismissing his petition to establish paternity of K.A.W.
(Child) and granting the petition to adopt Child that had
been filed by J.C. and D.C. (Adoptive Parents). Putative
Father argues that the trial court erred by finding that his
consent to the adoption was irrevocably implied and by
granting the adoption petition without a statutorily required
affidavit. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.
Child was born to D.W. (Mother) on April 15, 2014. Putative
Father has been incarcerated since before Child's birth.
Mother has also been incarcerated periodically throughout
Child's life; Child has always lived with Adoptive
Parents, who are relatives of Mother. On December 15, 2015,
Putative Father filed a petition to establish paternity;
shortly thereafter, he filed a motion for a DNA test.
On February 8, 2016, Adoptive Parents filed a petition to
adopt Child. The trial court ordered the paternity and
adoption causes consolidated on April 19, 2016. In July 2016,
the trial court granted Putative Father's motion for a
DNA test. On November 17, 2016, the DNA test report was filed
with the court indicating a 99.99% probability that Putative
Father is Child's biological father.
On December 9, 2016, Putative Father filed a motion to
contest the adoption. Mother consented to the adoption on
August 7, 2017. Thereafter, Adoptive Parents asked the trial
court to find that Putative Father's consent to the
adoption was irrevocably implied. On August 26, 2017,
Putative Father registered as a putative father of Child.
On August 30, 2017, the trial court entered an order staying
Putative Father's petition to establish paternity,
finding that Putative Father's consent to the adoption
was irrevocably implied. The trial court found that Father
"has never registered as [Child's] putative father.
Thus, he was not registered at the time [Adoptive
Parents'] petition to adopt [Child] was filed, which is
the relevant deadline." Appealed Order p. 2. Further,
the failure to timely register with the putative father
registry "constitutes an irrevocably implied
consent" to the adoption. Id.
In the final adoption decree, which was issued on November 7,
2017, the trial court found as follows with respect to
37. [Putative Father] is incarcerated by the Indiana
Department of Correction in Branchville, Indiana. He has
been in custody for the last three years.
38. [Putative Father] has used illegal drugs "off and
on" his entire adult life. At the time of his arrest he
was found to be operating a methamphetamine "lab"
in the [Putative Father's] home. His most recent charges
of possession of methamphetamine arose while he was on
probation having been convicted [of] possessing
39. [Putative Father] has never seen [Child] in person.
[Putative Father] has never spoken to [Child]. Since this
case was initiated, [Putative Father] has sent two cards to
[Child], a ...