The last step of the Massachusetts adoption process is adoption finalization. When finalization occurs, your child officially becomes a legal and permanent member of your family.
In between the moment when your child is placed with you and the moment when the final decree of adoption is issued in an adoption finalization in Massachusetts, the following steps must first take place:
Your child’s biological parents need to terminate their legal parental rights, which may not occur any sooner than four days after your child’s birth, according to Massachusetts adoption consent laws.
If applicable in your adoption, you’ll need to comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and/or the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) prior to returning to Massachusetts with your child.
Complete all post-placement requirements with your Massachusetts-licensed adoption home study provider.
When the above steps have been completed, your MA adoption attorney will let you know when your Massachusetts adoption finalization hearing has been scheduled. The hearing is usually scheduled for several months after placement and occurs at your local probate court, which maintains jurisdiction over adoptions in Massachusetts.
The adoption finalization hearing is typically short, lasting only about 20 to 60 minutes. At the end of the hearing, the judge issues the final decree of adoption, which legally completes your child’s Massachusetts adoption process.
At your child’s Massachusetts adoption finalization hearing, the following usually happens:
You’re sworn in before the judge and court, along with your adoption attorney.
The judge asks you questions about your desire to adopt and your ability to provide your child with a good home.
The judge asks your adoption attorney and/or social work questions about the adoption.
The judge signs the final decree of adoption.
The final decree of adoption means that your child’s adoption in Massachusetts is officially complete.
You’ll be able to file for your child’s amended birth certificate and social security card once the Massachusetts adoption finalization is complete.
Of course, adoption never really ends after finalization. Adoption is a journey that lasts a lifetime for everyone involved, so maintaining an ongoing dialogue about adoption is the best way to grow closer and stronger as a family.
You can always contact American Adoptions if you have questions, need general post-placement support, want help communicating with your child’s birth family or anything else.
To learn more about how to finalize an adoption in Massachusetts, call 1-800-ADOPTION now.
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