Finalizing your adoption is the final step in the Pennsylvania adoption process. It’s not until this point that your child is a legal and permanent member of your family, so this is milestone is often a celebration!
Before your child receives his or her final decree of adoption and Pennsylvania adoption finalization occurs, you’ll need to complete these steps first:
Your child’s biological parents must first issue their consent to terminate their parental rights in accordance with all Pennsylvania adoption consent laws (Note: PA birth mothers must wait a minimum of 72 hours following the birth of their child before they can offer their consent to an adoption in Pennsylvania, while putative fathers may offer their consent at any time).
If applicable, you must comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and/or the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) processes.
After these steps have been completed, your Pennsylvania adoption attorney and American Adoptions adoption specialist will contact you to let you know the details of your adoption finalization hearing, which takes place several months after initial placement. Pennsylvania adoptions fall under the jurisdiction of your county’s common pleas court.
Adoption finalization hearings involve a judge issuing the final decree of adoption, which officially completes the Pennsylvania adoption process. This is often celebrated by the family and friends with a party or family photos at the finalization.
A PA adoption finalization hearing only lasts about 20 minutes to an hour. During that time, you’ll:
Be sworn in with your adoption attorney before the judge.
Answer the judge’s questions about your initial desire to adopt and your ability to offer your child a safe, stable, and loving home.
The judge may have questions for your social worker, home study provider or occasionally the child’s birth family.
The judge signs the final decree of adoption.
Once you’ve completed your Pennsylvania adoption finalization, you can file for your child’s amended birth certificate and social security card. If you have any questions or need support from that point on, whether it’s about raising an adopted child or maintaining relationships with birth family, you can still always contact American Adoptions for help.
Still have some questions about how to finalize an adoption in Pennsylvania? Call 1-800-ADOPTION now for free information.
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