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JIC Post:From Associated PressINDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A lesbian couple from Morgan County has gone to the Indiana Court of Appeals to win the adoption of a 1-year-old girl approved by a judge in one county but denied by a judge in another. The Morgan County Office of Family and Children placed the child with Becki Hamilton and Kim Brennan two days after the child was born in 2004, and asked the couple to consider adoption. Hamilton and Brennan have lived together for more than a decade and were qualified by the state as foster parents. Morgan Circuit Judge Matthew Hanson was conducting hearings to terminate parental rights of the girl's birth mother when he learned that Hamilton and Brennan were living together and were not married. He ordered the Office of Family of Children last Nov. 19 to look for a married couple to adopt the baby instead. Court records show his judge's decision had nothing to do with Hamilton and Brennan as a same-sex couple, but with being unmarried. The couple turned in January to adjacent Marion County in their bid to keep the girl, and Superior Court Judge Charles Dieter on April 21 granted the adoption, saying it was in the child's best interest to be with the couple. When the couple petitioned to released the girl from her status as a ward of the Morgan County Office of Family and Children, Judge Hanson rejected it and ordered that she be moved to the custody of another couple. Hamilton and Brennan, who have retained custody of the child during the legal battle, now are appealing those two orders by Hanson. The Indiana Department of Child Services, which oversees the Morgan County office, says only married couples can file jointly for adoption: unmarried couples and individuals must apply as single parents. The state also argues that Dieter should not have ruled as he did in Marion County. "To the extent an adoption must be in the best interests of the child, those interests were not served when two judges with opposing views separately conducted proceedings that affected the child," the state agency argues in court papers. But lawyers representing the couple said it is in the best interest for the girl to remain with the couple. "Do we really want a rule that says after a child has been with a family for a year and is doing very well that we're going to uproot her and sort of roll the dice on another family just because they're married?" said Patricia Logue, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a national organization that represents gay people and others. "The main thing is what's best for this kid."
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