Hearings return for National Adoption Day at the courthouse

COLUMBUS, Ind. — There were several beaming faces Wednesday as Bartholomew Juvenile Magistrate Brittney Newland granted petitions from two couples to adopt new family members as part of National Adoption Day at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

“We’re here for some fun stuff,” Newland said upon entering the courtroom. Her assessment was reinforced with colorful cupcakes and gift bags handed out to each child.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday was Columbus’ first observance of National Adoption Day in three years. During the 2019 observance in Bartholomew County, six families participated.

Up until Wednesday, 4-year-old Allison and 6-year-old Kaylee were the nieces of Heather Mattingly of Hope. But family bonds grew stronger after the girls moved in with her aunt and her partner, Kelsay Malson.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s court hearing, the children took the same last name as their aunt: Mattingly. However, Newland said the law now considers the girls the adopted daughters of the same-sex couple.

“It was a long process, and I’m just a little impatient,” Heather Mattingly said. “But our attorney, Alex Whitted, did everything for us.

Although adoptions involve an extensive amount of paperwork, Whitted said his main focus was always to make sure the couple’s adoption request met all of Indiana’s statutes.

“I’m just thankful I was able to help them through this process,’ Whitted said.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s Republic.