Supreme Court Denies Rehearing in Interstate Compact Adoption&Surrogacy Case

The Indiana Supreme Court won’t reconsider its reversal of an adoption order granted to a New Jersey man of twin girls born by a surrogate in Indiana. In April, the high court ruled New Jersey resident S.M. failed to comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children In the matter of adoption of infants H., Marion County Division of Children’s Services v. S.M., No. 29S02-0904-CV-140.

The justices remanded with direction to comply with the compact and thereafter issue a further judgment accordingly. The order granting S.M. preliminary custody remained in effect pending compliance and any other orders the trial court may enter. The case centered around S.M. who had filed a petition in Hamilton County to adopt twin girls born in Indianapolis to a South Carolina woman. Initially, S.M. had indicated he had provided the sperm to fertilize the eggs, but it was later determined that the woman had used donor eggs and sperm. Further, it was discovered that S.M. wasn’t an Indiana resident. The Department of Child Services became involved following the birth of the children when S.M. appeared at the hospital and exhibited odd behavior. When nurses noted his clothing was covered by bird feces, it was discovered that S.M. had brought a live pet bird into the maternity ward. Despite the multiple issues involved, the concerns about S.M. raised by DCS and the apparent discrepancies in his pleadings, the trial court eventually entered a final decree of adoption and dismissed the CHINS case, indicating that consent by DCS to the adoption wasn’t required (see our blog dated 4-9-09 for additional information about this unusual case).

In the order denying rehearing released last Tuesday, the justices noted that S.M.‘s petition for rehearing asks for directives on multiple motions, requests, and objections recently filed in the trial courts by both parties. His request seems to have been prompted partly by the Supreme Court’s ruling but also because New Jersey’s child protection authorities have initiated a CHINS proceeding and removed the children from S.M.‘s care. Justices Shepard, Dickson, Sullivan and Boehn concurred with the reasoning of the order to deny rehearing as indicated in their decision:

“While pendency of an appeal generally moves jurisdiction over a case from the trial court to the appellate court until a decision on appeal is certified, Petitioner’s supplemental appendix reflecting the trial court’s recent activity demonstrates that the court amply appreciates that its authority during such a period runs only to emergency matters” It is obvious the Supreme Court feels there is no compelling reason to rehear the case and would not alter its prior findings.