What to Expect During Your Adoption Finalization Day
Becoming a family is a beautiful moment. For most adoptive families, that moment comes when their baby is placed in their arms at the hospital after a birth mother gives her consent. And, while this is an amazing experience, it’s not the official end of your adoption journey.
You’ll have a few steps left in your legal process of adoption, and it will all culminate in your adoption finalization.
The adoption finalization day is one to celebrate. It marks the official completion of your adoption process and makes your child an official member of your family!
Adoptive parents often have plenty of questions about the adoption finalization hearing and process, so we’ve answered some of them below. Don’t forget that your adoption specialist will guide you through your post-placement steps, including your adoption finalization court hearing, and will be there to support you in the months and years to come.
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When is an Adoption Finalized?
Every adoption timeline is different. When and how your adoption is finalized will depend on the laws of the states involved in the placement and the local court dockets.
When people ask, “When does the adoption become final for the adopting parents?” we are happy to answer. In most adoptions, the final adoption hearing occurs around six months after placement, although some hearings can happen as little as three months or up to a year after placement.
Because states have different adoption laws, there will be different post-placement requirements to meet before you can schedule an adoption finalization court hearing. These requirements include:
- Termination of Parental Rights
- Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)
- Post-Placement Visits (often two to six visits)
An adoption is finalized when all of the necessary post-placement requirements have been met. (Your adoption specialist will keep you informed of your legal process as it moves forward.)
Traditionally, adoption finalization occurs in a courtroom, although more and more judges are offering final adoption hearings over video-call or phone call. Your adoption specialist and adoption attorney will work together to schedule this hearing and ensure you are prepared for any questions that may be asked during this process.
What Happens at the Final Adoption Hearing?
Court hearings can understandably make people nervous, but the adoption finalization hearing is nothing to be scared of! It’s an opportunity to celebrate the journey you’ve taken and the new addition to your family.
Adoptive families ask us a lot of questions about this court hearing: How long does it take to finalize an adoption? What happens during the final adoption hearing?
Your adoption attorney and specialist will tell you what to expect at your adoption finalization hearing, but rest assured that the process is pretty simple and quick (usually lasting about 30 to 60 minutes):
- Step 1: Your family, attorney and possibly your social worker will be sworn in before a judge in the courtroom.
- Step 2: Your attorney will ask you to introduce yourself. You’ll probably answer some questions about your motivations to adopt and your understanding of the process. You will also need to confirm to the judge that you will provide a loving home for your child.
- Step 3: The judge will review the adoption paperwork and ask any remaining questions they have. When they are satisfied, they will sign the final adoption decree.
- Step 4: You may be invited to take a picture with the judge to celebrate your child being an official, legal part of your family!
After your adoption finalization is complete, your adoption attorney will help you apply for a new birth certificate and social security card. At this point, your legal adoption process will be complete — but your lifelong adoption journey is just beginning.
How to Celebrate an Adoption Finalization
Many adoptive families want to find ways to celebrate their adoption finalization. In addition to the photos taken at the court hearing, some parents decided to throw an adoption finalization party to invite all of their family and friends. Don’t forget that you can invite your friends and family to your final adoption hearing, too!
If you’re looking for adoption finalization party ideas, there are plenty of websites out there to help you. Consider Etsy.com for themed gifts for adoption finalization, or scroll Pinterest for some creative adoption finalization party invitations and suggestions. Whatever you do, remember to protect your child’s and the birth parents’ privacy when sharing their story.
Your adoption finalization day will likely be one you remember forever, so don’t forget to take lots of pictures and document the occasion in your child’s adoption scrapbook! If your open adoption relationship allows, you might also commemorate their birth parents’ choice with something special on this day, too.
You should also keep in mind that, while adoption finalization will be something you’ll celebrate, it can bring up mixed emotions for your child’s birth parents. It’s normal to want to shout your news from the rooftops (especially your social media accounts), but think about how that may affect your child’s birth parents if you are connected on those platforms. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your adoption specialist for advice on appropriate conversations surrounding this day.
Want to learn more about the adoption finalization process? Request free information online to learn more about our agency services and domestic infant adoption program.
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