If you’re in the process of growing your family through adoption, there’s one day you’ve probably anticipated more than almost any others in your life: the day you get to bring your child home with you. You’ve gone through all of the emotional highs and lows of the adoption process, and you’re ready to have your child with you and to begin your lives together. However, you brining your child home is not quite the end of the adoption journey. You still have one last step, and that’s obtaining a final decree of adoption in Washington.
To receive a final decree of adoption, you’ll attend your child’s adoption finalization hearing. While each hearing will vary depending on your individual situation, you can expect your Washington adoption finalization hearing to go something like this:
You’ll head to the local courthouse with your child and your adoption attorney, as well as any close friends or family members you’d like to have along for the occasion. When you arrive, the judge will already have familiarized himself or herself with your case. The hearing should take around 30–60 minutes in most cases.
After you briefly introduce yourselves to the judge presiding over the Washington adoption finalization hearing, your attorney will speak to testify that the adoption is indeed in your child’s best interests. In the event that your child is older, he or she may be asked to speak simply to verify that they also believe the adoption should proceed.
You will indicate to the judge that you intend to provide your child with a safe and loving home and care for him or her with the best of your ability. The judge may ask you a few simple questions, but you shouldn’t expect anything particularly stressful at this point. Most times, the judge just wants to get to know the families they’re helping to create. If you brought a camera along to memorialize the day, now is a good time to take pictures!
The judge will review any outstanding orders, such as birth parent expenses or the termination of the birth father’s parental rights. After making sure that both birth parents had their rights terminated ethically and legally and that everything is in order, he or she will sign the final decree of adoption.
Once you receive your final decree of adoption in Washington, a new birth certificate will be mailed to you that will list you as your child’s “natural parents.” If your child’s birth mother lives in another state, your state will communicate with her home state to get your child’s new birth certificate. If this is the case, it may take longer for your child’s birth certificate to arrive in the mail.
It’s important to remember, however, that receiving a final decree of adoption doesn’t necessarily mean your adoption journey is over. It’s a lifelong process, and it’s important that you talk with your child to ensure he or she feels comfortable talking about their adoption and coming to you with any questions.
To learn more about adoption finalization in Washington, please call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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