The Home Stretch: Adoption Finalization in Missouri
How to Legally Complete Your Child’s Adoption in MO
One might assume that once a baby is placed with his or her adoptive parents, the adoption process is complete. However, this is not necessarily the case. Even after you bring your baby home with you, there are a few steps you will have to take before receiving your final decree of adoption in Missouri.
You can learn more about that Missouri adoption finalization process here. But remember — the legal adoption process can be complicated, and the exact steps needed to finalize your Missouri adoption may vary. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice; you’ll need to work with an experienced Missouri adoption attorney to guide you through this process.
To talk to our adoption professionals now about the adoption process in MO, call 1-800-ADOPTION or request more information online.
Adoption Finalization in Missouri
The process of receiving your final decree of adoption in Missouri is called adoption finalization. Typically, this process plays out over six months or so post-placement. Just like the rest of the adoption process, you don’t have to go through adoption finalization in Missouri on your own. Your adoption specialist and adoption attorney can help you navigate some of the more challenging steps.
Here are a few of the key parts of adoption finalization in Missouri:
The Termination of Parental Rights
In a private domestic adoption, which is the adoption of an infant, both parents must legally consent to the adoption by relinquishing their rights to their baby. In Missouri, a parent cannot terminate their parental rights until the baby is at least 48 hours old. The parent must provide written consent and can revoke it at any point until a judge verifies that adoption is indeed in the best interest of the child and issues a final decree of adoption in Missouri. This may sound scary to read, but don’t let it worry you. Protecting the rights of birth parents is a good and necessary thing, and adoption disruptions (when a birth parent changes their mind) are relatively uncommon.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) Clearance
If you adopt a child from a state other than Missouri, you will need to comply with all ICPC guidelines. ICPC was enacted to make sure adoptions between state lines are ethical and legal. Since different states have different adoption regulations, complying with ICPC may have different requirements depending on which state you adopted your baby from.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Clearance
If the child you are adoption has any Native American heritage involving a federally recognized tribe, you will be required to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The ICWA was enacted in 1978 and serves to keep Native American children with biological families when possible. This does not mean that you can’t adopt a child of Native American descent if you are not a member of a tribe, but there will be additional steps to complete. For example, a tribe member who has just given birth may not consent to an adoption until 10 days have passed since birth. It is somewhat rare for ICWA regulations to come into play during an adoption finalization in Missouri.
After your child is placed with you, your Missouri home study provider will visit your home again to make sure everyone is adjusting and integrating well with the newest family member. In Missouri, the social worker will make regular reports on this progress to the court to verify that the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Once all the necessary steps are completed, it will be time for the event you’ve been waiting for — the Missouri adoption finalization hearing. Your social worker or attorney will let you know when your finalization hearing will take place, and you’ll generally be able to invite those close to you to come celebrate the day with you.
Usually, your adoption attorney will have provided the court with all paperwork in advance, so the judge will already have seen that all the necessary requirements have been fulfilled and that the adoption complied with Missouri adoption laws. The hearing shouldn’t take more than an hour, and you can expect a few things to happen:
Step 1: You’ll stand before the judge with your attorney and be sworn in.
Step 2: You’ll introduce yourself and answer some questions about your adoption decision.
Step 3: The judge may ask additional questions and invite everyone present to take a picture to commemorate the day your child legally became yours.
Step 4:The judge will sign the final adoption decree in Missouri.
After the finalization hearing, the adoption is legally complete. Aside from working on your relationship with your child’s birth parents and talking with your child about adoption throughout his or her life, you only have two tasks left:
Apply for a social security card for your child. You will need the Missouri final adoption decree, your child’s new birth certificate, and an immunization record to complete this step; your adoption attorney can help you with this process.
Gather all adoption-related paperwork for your taxes. You will want to show proof of all adoption-related expenses to receive the federal adoption tax credit.
To locate the court in your county where your finalization hearing will take place, visit the official website of the Missouri court system.
To find out how American Adoptions will guide you through this process, please call 1-800-ADOPTION.
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