A 62-year-old New Jersey man who adopted twins born to a surrogate mother in Indiana must go through the adoption process again, Indiana’s Supreme Court ruled.
Reaffirming its earlier decision, the court said child-welfare officials in New Jersey must determine whether Stephen F. Melinger can provide a safe and stable home for the twins, Kathy Zee and Karen Zaria Melinger, who were born in April 2005, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.
The girls, now 4, can stay with Melinger in New Jersey while he goes through the adoption process again, the Star said.
The court expressed concerns about false statements by Steven Litz, a lawyer who represents Melinger and owns a firm that solicits clients and surrogate mothers on the Internet.
During adoption proceedings, the high court found, Litz had told a Hamilton County, Ind., court Melinger lived in Indianapolis when in fact he had lived in Union City, N.J., for 10 years. Litz also had indicated the surrogate mother was inseminated with sperm from Melinger and another donor when Melinger actually did not donate sperm, the court found.
“The adoption judge’s effort to deal with these successive shifting factual claims was understandably daunting,” Chief Justice Randall Shepard said.
And the high court said New Jersey child-welfare officials should have been consulted during the adoption proceedings.
Child-welfare workers in Indiana had questioned Melinger’s fitness to be a parent after he appeared at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to visit the premature twins with a bird perched on his suit sleeve and later with bird droppings on his clothes.