After all of the adoption paperwork, the home visits, the hoping and the anticipation, you will finally get the call you’ve been waiting for — the one notifying you that it is time to go to the hospital to meet your baby for the very first time.
But while bringing your child home may feel like the victorious end of a long adoption journey, the process is not yet complete. There are still some important steps you will need to take to legally finalize your adoption in Wisconsin before your baby becomes a permanent, legal member of your family.
Here’s how to officially complete your family and achieve adoption finalization in Wisconsin:
In most adoptions, adoptive parents are required to complete a post-placement study after returning home with their child.
The post-placement study is similar to the pre-adoption home study and may even be completed by the same social worker who performed your pre-placement home visits. During the post-placement study, your social worker will visit your home again to observe you and your baby and ensure everyone in the family is adjusting well to life together.
As long as your home is still a generally safe and supportive environment for your child to grow up in, your social worker will likely submit a report to the court stating that they believe Wisconsin adoption finalization is in the best interest of your child.
In order to be granted a final decree of adoption in Wisconsin, a judge must determine that your adoption was completed in compliance with all relevant adoption laws. Prior to your Wisconsin adoption finalization hearing, your attorney will work with you to ensure your adoption meets all of the following legal requirements:
If your adoption took place across state lines, the placement was reviewed and approved by both states, and you received the proper Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) clearance
If your child is eligible for membership in a federally recognized Native American tribe, your adoption met the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
You completed any necessary post-placement visits, as explained above
Your adoption followed all other relevant Wisconsin adoption laws
Adoption can be a legally complex process, so it’s important to work closely with your American Adoptions specialist and an adoption attorney to ensure your Wisconsin adoption finalization process is as smooth as possible.
Once your adoption attorney has determined that you’ve met all the necessary requirements, he or she will submit the legal adoption paperwork to the court and schedule an adoption finalization hearing.
The judge will review your adoption case prior to your court date, so the Wisconsin adoption finalization proceedings are usually brief. During the hearing:
You and your attorney will be sworn in before the judge.
You may be asked to make a few remarks about your intention to adopt this child and provide him or her with a loving home.
The judge may ask you a few additional questions to get to know your family better.
The judge will sign your Wisconsin adoption decree, legally securing your parental rights for your child.
Once the adoption finalization process is complete and you’ve received your child’s final decree of adoption in Wisconsin, your child will officially be a permanent, legal member of your family! For many families, adoption finalization in Wisconsin is a time for celebration. You may choose to take photos with the judge who finalizes your adoption and invite friends and family members to celebrate this exciting milestone with you.
Armed with your final decree of adoption in Wisconsin, your attorney can then guide you through the process to apply for a new birth certificate and social security card for your child.
Remember that while your adoption is now legally complete, this is just the beginning of your lifelong adoption journey. Adoption will continue to be an important part of your child’s identity, and you should continue to talk about adoption with your child throughout his or her upbringing.
In addition, 90 percent of adoptions in Wisconsin today involve some level of openness, so your relationship with your child’s birth family will be an important one that continues to grow and evolve throughout his or her childhood.
As you navigate the Wisconsin adoption finalization process and post-adoption life, American Adoptions will always be available to provide support and answer your questions. To learn more about adoption finalization in Wisconsin, call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with an adoption specialist.
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