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How to Finalize Your Adoption in North Dakota

Everything to Know about ND Adoption Finalization

Bringing your child home with you for the first time will be a moment you remember forever. You’ve been waiting and working for this day for a long time, and it’s certainly one worth celebrating. However, while you can certainly commemorate the day, it’s important that you understand that this isn’t actually the end of the adoption process. Before your child is legally and permanently yours, there will be two more steps to complete: post-placement visits and the North Dakota adoption finalization hearing.

What are post-placement visits?

Completed by the same professional that performed your home study, a post-placement study is actually an extension of the adoption home study. Its purpose is simply to make sure everyone is adjusting well in your new home, and the study will later be used to verify this to the judge who presides over your North Dakota adoption finalization hearing. The report completed for your post-placement study will include:

  • A review of your child’s history
  • Your preplacement home study
  • A post-placement evaluation as well as a recommendation for the judge to grant your petition for adoption
  • Any other information the court requires

Your post-placement study may also include face-to-face visits with your child in your home on a monthly basis until a final decree of adoption has been granted.

What other requirements does a family have to meet before they can receive the North Dakota final decree of adoption?

Along with post-placement visits, you’ll have to adhere to a few other laws prior to your North Dakota adoption finalization hearing:

  • The Termination of Parental Rights: No matter your individual situation, every parent who adopts must wait for the biological parents to have their parental rights terminated. This may happen voluntarily — which is typically the case in a private domestic adoption — or the court may decide to terminate their rights without their input if adoption is indeed in the child’s best interests (more common in adoptions from foster care).
  • The Indian Child Welfare Act: If you adopt a child who is a member of a federally recognized Native American Tribe (or is eligible for membership), you’ll be required to comply with ICWA. This is a federal law and serves to preserve American Indian heritage as well as families.
  • The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children: If you live in North Dakota but adopt a child whose biological parents live in another state, you’ll have to comply with ICPC regulations. These were enacted to be sure all adoptions taking places across state lines adhere to the same legal and ethical standards, since adoption laws vary by state.

What happens at the North Dakota adoption finalization hearing?

After you have met all of the above requirements, it’ll be time for your family’s adoption finalization hearing. When the day comes, you’ll see a judge in your county in a hearing that generally lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. While every adoption situation is different, this is a general outline of what you can expect to happen:

  • Step 1: You and your spouse, as well as your child and adoption attorney, will stand before a judge on the appointed day.
  • Step 2: Your attorney will have you introduce yourselves to the judge, and he or she will testify that the adoption is in the child’s best interests and should take place.
  • Step 3: The judge may ask some easy questions to get to know you better, and he or she will ask you to confirm that it’s your intent to provide your adopted child with a safe, loving and stable home. If you brought a camera, now is the time to snap some pictures to remember the day!
  • Step 4: At the end of the hearing, provided that everything has been completed correctly, the judge will sign your North Dakota final decree of adoption.

After the hearing — usually within about a few weeks — you’ll receive your child’s new birth certificate that lists you and your spouse as the parents in the mail. Once this happens, your child is permanently and legally yours, and your adoption is complete! However, this doesn’t mean that an adoption is ever really “over.” It will be your responsibility to make sure your child always knows their adoption story is something to be proud of, and that they can come to you with any questions.

To learn more about adoption in North Dakota with our agency or to start the process today, please contact American Adoptions at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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