The day you bring your child into your home for the first time will be one that you remember forever. It’s a momentous occasion and certainly something to be celebrated. However, it’s not quite the end of the adoption process. Your child will not be legally and permanently yours until you complete two additional steps: post-placement visits and your Iowa adoption finalization hearing.
A post-placement study is an extension of your home study to make sure everyone is adjusting well with the newest family member in your home. Your home study provider will visit your home to observe your child in his or her new environment at least three times in a span of no more than 180 days after your child comes home with you. These visits will be necessary to receive your final decree of adoption in an Iowa court.
During each of these three visits, the social worker will speak with everyone in the household to ensure that everyone is adjusting properly. He or she will learn about your methods of discipline and watch everyone interact with the child. If necessary, there may be more than three post-placement visits if the social worker feels the family is experiencing any problems.
However, these visits are not mean to scare you or to feel intimidating. Remember, your social worker wants to help you! This is just another way to ensure you are prepared for the Iowa adoption finalization process.
In addition to post-placement visits, you’ll have to take care of a few other things before you can have your Iowa adoption finalization hearing:
The Termination of Parental Rights: Before you can legally adopt your child, his or her biological parents must have their parental rights terminated. They can do this voluntarily, or in some cases, a court can terminate their rights if it is indeed in the child’s best interests to do so.
The Indian Child Welfare Act: If the child you plan to adopt is a member of a federally recognized tribe or is eligible for membership, you will have to comply with the ICWA. This is a federal law that was enacted to preserve the heritage of American Indian tribes and their families.
The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: If you’re from Iowa but are adopting a child from another state, you will have to comply with ICPC. This is was put into place to ensure that adoptions across state lines are ethical and legal, since different states have different laws regarding adoption.
Once all of the above requirements have been met, you’ll be ready for your adoption finalization hearing. On the appointed day, you’ll see a judge in your county for a proceeding that typically lasts from about 30 minutes to an hour. Here’s what you can expect to happen:
You and your spouse will stand before a judge with your child as well as you attorney and possibly your social worker.
You will introduce yourselves, and then your attorney will briefly testify that the adoption should take place.
The judge will ask you to confirm that your intent is to provide your child with a safe, loving home. He or she may ask you some easy questions to get to know you better. This is the perfect time to take a picture to remember the day if you brought your camera!
When the hearing is wrapping up, the judge will sign your Iowa final decree of adoption.
A few weeks after the hearing, you should get a new birth certificate for your child that lists you and your spouse as the parents. At this point, congratulations! Your child is permanently yours, and your adoption is complete.
For more information about adoption finalization in Iowa, please call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.
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