How to Finalize Your Adoption in Hawaii
The Final Steps to Complete Your HI Adoption
The day that you bring your baby home from the hospital will be one that sticks out in your memories forever. You’ve waited such a long time, and you’ve undoubtedly been through an emotional roller coaster during the adoption in Hawaii process. It’s an occasion that can — and should — be celebrated.
However, it doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the end of the adoption process. There are still two steps you must complete: post-placement visits and a Hawaii adoption finalization hearing. Only after both of these are finished will you be able to receive your child’s final decree of adoption.
If you haven’t started the adoption process but are ready to talk to an adoption specialist about adoption in Hawaii, reach out to us through our free online form.
What are post-placement visits?
A post-placement visit is essentially an extension of the adoption in Hawaii home study, typically performed by the same social worker who came to your home the first time. The purpose of these visits is to ensure that both the adopted child and everyone else in the family are adjusting well to the transition. A post-placement report filed by a social worker will provide information about:
Any services provided, whether for the child or the family, over the course of the post-placement study period
Any special needs or circumstances relating to the child
How the adopted child appears to have adjusted
The adopted child’s health and developmental progress
The child’s status on being accepted on the family’s medical insurance
Any relevant changes in the family’s living situation or circumstances
Hawaii state laws only mandate post-placement visits if there is a span of time between the entry of an adoption decree and the date the child is effectively adopted. This will be judged by the court on an individual basis.
What needs to happen before a family can receive the Hawaii final decree of adoption?
Other than potential post-placement visits, there are two different sets of regulations you may have to follow after the termination of parental rights and prior to your Hawaii adoption finalization hearing. Of course, whether or not these apply will depend entirely on your adoption situation, but it’s important to be aware of:
ICWA (The Indian Child Welfare Act): If the child you adopt has any Native American heritage, you will most likely be required to follow guidelines set forth by the Indian Child Welfare Act, which serves to protect American Indian families and tribes.
ICPC (The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children): If the child you adopt is from a state other than Hawaii (or if you are from another state and your baby is born in Hawaii), you’ll need to comply with the regulations set forth by the ICPC. Since each state has different laws pertaining to adoption, these laws were enacted to ensure the safety and legitimacy of adoptions occurring across state lines.
Before the judge grants your final decree of adoption in Hawaii, he or she will ensure that all ICPC and ICWA regulations, if applicable, were adhered to.
What happens at a Hawaii adoption finalization hearing?
Once you have completed all of the above steps that may apply to your individual adoption situation, it’ll be time to schedule your Hawaii adoption finalization hearing. This will take place with a judge in your circuit, will typically last about an hour, and will go something like this:
You and your family, in addition to your adoption attorney, will stand before the judge. If your social worker is local, he or she may also be present at the hearing.
After you introduce yourselves to the judge, you’ll have the chance to explain why adoption is in your child’s best interest.
The judge may ask some questions about your family, and you will verify that you intend to provide your child with a stable, safe and loving home. If you brought a camera along for the occasion, now is the time to take a picture with your child and the judge!
The judge will address any outstanding issues, if necessary. If everything has been addressed, it’s time to sign the final decree of adoption!
Once the Hawaii adoption finalization hearing is complete, your child’s new birth certificate will be mailed to you. Once this has arrived, the adoption process is legally complete. Remember, though, that the adoption process is never really “over.” This will be a lifelong journey for everyone involved — you, the birth parents, and, most importantly, your child. He or she should always feel comfortable talking about their adoption story and asking questions, so it’s important that you keep those lines of communication open.
To learn more about how adoption finalization in Hawaii works, please contact a local adoption attorney. To learn more about adopting a child in Hawaii with our agency or to begin the adoption process, please contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.
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