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How to Finalize Your Adoption in Montana

The Final Step to Completing Your Adoption

You’ll never forget the moment your child is placed in your arms for the first time. You’ve come a long way to get here — possibly through the pain of infertility, and certainly through the challenges of the adoption process. But that moment, when you hold your child and look in their eyes, makes it all worth it.

In many ways, this can feel like the end of a long journey. But there are actually a few steps left in the adoption process in Montana — these last steps are called adoption finalization. How do you finalize your adoption in Montana? How does adoption finalization in Montana work? What even is adoption finalization?

We’re going to answer these questions to help you understand this very important last step of the adoption process. If you have more specific questions about the adoption process in Montana with our agency, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time.

What is adoption finalization in Montana?

Adoption finalization in Montana refers to the post-placement process of receiving a final decree of adoption from a judge. Many families assume that the adoption process ends at the hospital when a baby is placed in your arms. While this assumption is common, it’s incorrect. There are still a few steps left until your adoption is finalized in Montana.

What are the steps to receive a final decree of adoption in Montana?

Montana’s adoption finalization process is similar to many other states. If you work with American Adoptions, an adoption specialist will be there to guide you through each step, just like other elements of the adoption process.

Step 1: Complying with ICPC and ICWA

If your adoption occurs outside of Montana (or if you reside in another state but travel to Montana to adopt), you’ll need to make sure you comply with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Your adoption specialist will make sure this happens. For you, this will mean planning on a two- to three-week stay in the state of the child’s birth before traveling home. A variety of interstate paperwork must be completed before the child can legally return with you to Montana or your home state.

Additionally, you may be subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) if the child you are adopting is of Native American heritage. Your adoption attorney will explain what is involved if this is necessary.

Step 2: Post-Placement Visits

After you have complied with ICPC and returned to Montana, you are ready for the next step in your adoption finalization. Montana, like nearly every state, requires a series of post-placement visits from a social worker to observe how the family and child are adjusting to the placement. Ideally, this will take place with the same social worker who conducted your Montana adoption home study, so there will be a sense of familiarity with the professional who is observing your family. These visits usually occur over the first six months of a child’s placement with a family.

There will likely be an interview along with the observation. The parents and siblings will talk with the social worker about how they are adjusting. Once the social worker is satisfied, he or she will write an official report for a judge recommending a final decree of adoption.

Step 3: Your Final Decree of Adoption in Montana

When the time comes to finalize your adoption in Montana, you’ll attend your finalization hearing. Montana requires that you have been with your child for a minimum of six months before a hearing can occur. Your adoption attorney will work with you to make sure all the necessary paperwork is submitted and all laws have been followed up to this point.

At your hearing, a judge will review your placement and the post-placement visit reports. He or she may ask you questions, like why you decided to adopt and how your placement has gone so far. You shouldn’t expect any sort of interrogation, but it is normal to answer a few questions.

Once a judge is satisfied, they will declare your final decree of adoption, granting you full legal parenthood of your child. Congratulations, you’ve taken the last step of the adoption process!

What comes after adoption finalization in Montana?

With a final decree of adoption in Montana, the adoption process is complete. But the journey is just beginning. You’re a parent now, and you’ve got a long, beautiful, challenging, joyful road ahead. Just like any other form of parenting, adoption is a lifelong commitment. You should continually educate yourself on the effects adoption has on children and how you can help your child grow and thrive. Tell your child their adoption story from a young age so they can beginning forming a positive self-identity around the unique way they came to be a part of your family.

Depending on the level of openness in your adoption plan, you can even incorporate your child’s birth mother directly into this process through sustained contact and forming a relationship. Knowing their birth mother and understanding that her decision was made out of love can be incredibly beneficial as a child starts to piece their own story together.

You probably have more questions about adoption finalization in Montana. We know that every adoption plan is unique, but we're always here to guide you through your domestic infant adoption. You can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time to speak with an adoption specialist about how American Adoptions can help you.

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