Adoption finalization can seem like a prize at the end of a long race. It is a day that most adoptive families look forward to when their family becomes legally complete. However, as much as adoption is a family matter, it is also a legal matter. Adoptions become official when there is a legal transference of custody awarded to the adoptive family.
There are several hurdles to overcome in the adoption process. The court’s role in adoption is to ensure that the adopted child is safe and placed with a loving caring family. Here’s what you can expect when it comes to the court process of adoption finalization.
What Happens Before the Finalization of an Adoption?
Adoption laws vary from state-to-state and include important legislation such as the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). These laws were put in place in order to ensure the safety and well-being of adopted children.
Adhering to both state, federal, and local laws regarding adoption is imperative. However, it is best to consult a professional on the matter. Your adoption attorney will walk you through the entire process to ensure success in the finalization of your adoption.
The finalization occurs after the parental rights of the child’s biological parents have been terminated and the child is in the custody of the state, an agency, or county. The termination of parental rights is one of the most important legal obstacles to overcome in regard to finalizing your adoption, especially if the termination is still actively being sought.
Your adoptive child may have a court-appointed caseworker or attorney. Their job is to advocate solely for the rights and well-being of the child. The caseworker will speak with older children and discuss their wishes. They may speak on behalf of the child in court. However, it is important to remember that their intentions are to make sure the child is placed in a loving home, their job is to remain objective.
Adoption Finalization in Court
The finalization of an adoption results in the adoptive parents becoming the legal parents of the child and gaining full custody. This is signified by an adoption certificate or an adoption decree, which is a document given by the courts and bearing a judge’s signature.
Every adoption is unique, especially when it comes to the court process. The court process of adoption varies from state-to-state and even county-to-county. One judge may not require the appearance of the family in court, while another may encourage it. There are several steps in the process that vary within a given finalization in court, but here are some general guidelines of what to expect:
- Being sworn in. You and your family may have to be sworn in when you attend your adoption finalization.
- A review of the adoption. A caseworker may go over details and reports of the adoption thus far. This may include the findings of your home study and post placement reports and a review of how long the child has been living with you.
- Being questioned. You and your family may be questioned by the judge about your intent to adopt. If the child is old enough the judge may also ask for his or her input, as well.
Once all of this is completed, the judge will conclude that your adoption is final and sign your adoption decree. As this can be an emotional moment, the judge may allow for pictures to be taken. The new birth certificate will be produced after the adoption decree is entered into the court record.
You may also choose to celebrate this incredible moment. Balloons and a cake can make this legal process a real celebration. You can invite your extended family members to the affair, as well. This can be a great way to show the adopted child your excitement about them officially becoming a member of your family.
Once your adoption is finalized, you may still need assistance to ensure that your transition period runs as smoothly as possible. Making use of post-adoption services including those offered by your adoption agency, county, or state is recommended. You may also join some adoptive parent groups in your area or virtually. You can find some of these services on the U.S. Child Welfare Gateway.
Adoption finalization is a huge moment for you and your family. The official addition of your adopted child to your family should be celebrated as it solidifies your relationship to one another. The legality of adoption is complicated and should be handled by the professionals. Your adoption agency and attorney are the best resources available. They will help you throughout your journey and work to keep you informed.
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or our phones: 303-670-4673(HOPE).
Help Us Make an Impact
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowd Rise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more. But, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Davina grew up in the outskirts of New York City, before eventually moving to Buffalo, New York at the age of 10. Her passion for adoption comes from her own experiences of being in foster care and being an adoptee herself. She hopes to help others to understand the intricacies of adoption and encourage them to consider it as an option.
Davina is a proud Geneseo Knights alum having graduated in 2018. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and chose to pursue a degree in English with hopes of making her hobby a career. Thus far, she has enjoyed her time as an intern for Adoption Choices Inc. and looks forward to a bright future in writing. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, building websites, and making lists.
“Adoption Laws.” Adoption Center. 30 January 2019. http://www.adopt.org/adoption-laws.
“Finalizing an Adoption” Adopt Us Kids. 29 January 2019. https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/finalizing-an-adoption
“The Basics of Adoption” Child Welfare Information Gateway. 29 January 2019. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/f_basicsbulletin.pdf
“What to Expect During Your Adoption Finalization” Annest, Janna. 30 January 2019. https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/adoption-bonding-home/adoption-finalization/
“Accessing Adoption Support and Preservations Services” Child Welfare Information Gateway. 30 January 2019. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_postadoption.pdf#page=11&view=Finding%20services.