The day that you bring your baby home from the hospital will be one of the happiest of your life. It’s a day that you’ve waited and worked for, and it’s certainly something to be celebrated. However, it’s still not quite the end of the adoption process. After you bring your child home with you, there’s still one step you must take: the Louisiana adoption finalization hearing.
Here’s what you can expect to happen at a Louisiana adoption finalization hearing:
You’ll see a judge at the courthouse in your parish, along with your adoption attorney and your adopted child. Since the judge will already have reviewed your case by your scheduled hearing date, the Louisiana adoption finalization hearing should typically only take between 30 and 60 minutes.
Your attorney will ask you to introduce yourself to the judge. Then he or she will explain that the adoption is indeed in the child’s best interests and should be finalized. In some instances, an older child being adopted may be asked to answer a few questions as well. This will be to let the judge know that they agree with being adopted.
The judge will ask you a few questions, and you’ll let him or her know that you are fully prepared and intend to provide the child with a safe and loving home. At this point, many families will pause for a photo opportunity with the judge.
If there are any outstanding orders pertaining to the adoption, such as any special circumstances relating to the termination of the birth father’s parental rights, the judge will review them at the end of the hearing. He or she will also ensure that all postplacement study requirements were met. (See below for Louisiana postplacement requirements.) As long as all laws were followed correctly, the judge will grant the Louisiana final decree of adoption.
Prior to your adoption finalization hearing, you’ll be required to ensure that any ICPC or ICWA regulations have been met. The ICPC, or the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, exists to regulate adoptions that occur across state lines, since each state has different laws regarding adoption. If you adopt from another state, you will most likely be required to stick around in your child’s home state while ICPC laws are adhered to before returning home with your child.
ICWA is the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was established in 1978 to protect Native American families and tribes. If the child you adopt has any Native American heritage, you will be required to fulfill all ICWA requirements, including notifying the child’s tribe and parents of all custody proceedings and working to actively involve the child’s tribe in those proceedings.
You’ll also need to meet Louisiana’s postplacement requirements. The state requires that the agency who placed the child:
See the child and family within three weeks after placement and once every two months after that. A visit must occur within 30 days prior to the finalization hearing. At least two of these visits must occur in the adoptive family’s home.
Be available to the child and parents for consultation and support.
Be made aware of any changes in the adoptive family’s home, including changes in health, education or behavior.
Once the postplacement requirements are met, the birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated, and any ICPC or ICWA procedures have been adhered to, it will be time for the Louisiana adoption finalization hearing.
For more information about receiving a final decree of adoption in Louisiana, please call American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a licensed social worker.
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