In re Adoption of A.R., 053018 INCA, 82A01-1710-AD-2426

Docket Nº:82A01-1710-AD-2426
Opinion Judge:MATHIAS, JUDGE.
Party Name:In re Adoption of A.R., S.R., Appellant-Respondent, v. J.W., Appellee-Petitioner.
Attorney:ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Craig Goedde Johnson Carroll Norton Kent & Goedde, P.C. Evansville, Indiana
Judge Panel:Riley, J., and May, J., concur.
Case Date:May 30, 2018
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana

In re Adoption of A.R., S.R., Appellant-Respondent,


J.W., Appellee-Petitioner.

No. 82A01-1710-AD-2426

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 30, 2018

Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Vanderburgh Superior Court The Honorable Brett J. Niemeier, Judge The Honorable Renee Allen Ferguson, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 82D04-1505-AD-48

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Craig Goedde Johnson Carroll Norton Kent & Goedde, P.C. Evansville, Indiana



[¶1] S.R. appeals the trial court's decree of adoption allowing M.W. to adopt S.R.'s minor child, A.R., after concluding that S.R.'s consent to the adoption was not necessary. S.R. argues that the evidence does not support the trial court's conclusion that his consent was not necessary.

[¶2] We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] A.R. was born to S.R. and J.W. ("Mother") in February 2002. S.R.'s and Mother's marriage was dissolved in 2008, and they agreed to share physical and joint legal custody of A.R. Because they agreed to share physical custody and agreed to equally divide A.R.'s expenses, no child support order was issued.

[¶4] S.R. was abusive toward Mother during their marriage, and A.R. was often present and witnessed the abuse. In 2008, the same year the marriage was dissolved, Mother obtained a protective order against S.R. He violated the protective order and was convicted of misdemeanor invasion of privacy.

[¶5] There was no change to the parties' agreement until August 2014 when S.R.'s parenting time was limited to supervised parenting time through the Parenting Time Center. Prior to this date, S.R. had not exercised regular parenting time, in part due to an injury suffered in a work-related accident and out-of-state employment. During this time, S.R. sporadically communicated with A.R. via telephone calls and text messages.

[¶6] S.R. initially refused to participate in supervised parenting time. S.R. also failed to respond to Mother's requests for reimbursement of A.R.'s medical and school expenses.

[¶7] In April 2015, S.R. filed a petition to modify visitation and child support. On May 13, 2015, A.R.'s stepfather, M.W., filed a petition to adopt her.1 The petition alleged that S.R.'s consent to the adoption was not necessary. S.R. filed a notice to contest the adoption on June 5, 2015. Mother later filed a motion to terminate S.R.'s parenting time in the dissolution proceedings.

[¶8] On November 19, 2015, the parties agreed to consolidate the adoption proceedings with their dissolution proceedings. The hearings on the adoption petition were held on September 26 and 27, 2016, October 3, 2016, and January 11, 2017. The trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law on March 20, 2017.2 The trial court found: 9. On September 22, 2016, Guardian Ad Litem Amy Brandsasse filed a 14 page report concerning the issues at hand, 3recommending adoption as in the best interests of the minor child. In her report and testimony at the time of trial, she found that child had signed a consent to her adoption, does not have a bond with Father, never had a healthy bond with Father, is fearful of Father due to her experiences with him, and specifically had an "increase in anxiety, poor sleep and nightmares and worrying thoughts" concerning the possibly of seeing Father after two years of not having contact with him. Child's memories and reasons given were those of her own, some of which Mother was unaware when questioned by the Guardian Ad Litem.

10.Brandsasse further testified that she found that Mother was not influencing the child concerning what to say or think and had not found evidence that Mother kept child away from Father. Brandsasse further testified that the child expressed her personal refusal to speak to Father on the phone consistently, and child gave the reason that Father would get angry and yell on the phone at her and/or her Mother to the point that others in the room could hear his yelling.

11.Brandsasse found the child to be intelligent, mature for her age and consistent in her accountings over the years of therapy and currently. Child recounted events regarding domestic violence between Mother and Father, and she reported Father being repeatedly intoxicated to the point of being unable to respond to her or driving with her while intoxicated. The child's information established that Father was not fit to parent.

12.Brandsasse spoke to the Maternal Grandmother who recounted domestic violence between Father and Mother, that Father was not attentive to [A.R.]'s needs and not "fatherly, " and she witnessed [A.R]'s refusal to speak with or have interaction with her Father. Grandmother further became emotional when discussing how step-father was so good, loving and kind with [A.R.] and the relationship between him, Mother and [A.R.]. She described Step-father and [A.R.'s] relationship as "precious."

13.Brandsasse reviewed Father's hospital records which were consistent with the angry persona witnessed by the child wherein the records reflected his anger towards his own family members such that they left the hospital, reporting to the staff why they were leaving.


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