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Adoption Finalization in Rhode Island

How to Legally Complete Your Child's Adoption in RI

The last step of the adoption in Rhode Island journey — finalization — is the cause of excitement for all adoptive families. Once this last step is complete, your child will be an official member of your family, and you will be awarded permanent and legal custody of your child. Before you can schedule your adoption finalization hearing, however, you may need to complete a few more steps.

Don’t worry — American Adoptions will be there to guide you every step of your finalization in Rhode Island. You can even fill out our free online form or call 1-800-ADOPTION for Rhode Island adoption help at any time. 

Hiring an Adoption Attorney

Having an adoption attorney is essential during the finalization process. Whether you are a birth parent or an adoptive parent, an adoption attorney can help explain your rights before, during, and after your finalization hearing.

If you choose to work with American Adoptions, we can help connect you with a trusted attorney. If you are interested in working with a local adoption agency, you will need to research available adoption attorneys in Rhode Island to represent your best interests during your adoption finalization.

For a list of adoption attorneys in Rhode Island, please search here.

Parental Consent and the Adoption

Before a child can be placed for adoption, the birth parents are legally required to terminate their parental rights. This is done in one of two ways:

  • Voluntary: When an expectant mother plans to place her child for adoption, she is voluntarily terminating any and all parental rights.

  • Involuntary – While birth parents may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, there are some cases (for example: abuse, neglect, etc.) where they are terminated by the court. This is called an involuntary termination.

This legal step is an essential part of the adoption finalization process. An adoption attorney or your American Adoption specialist will be able to help explain your state’s laws and regulations regarding the termination of parental rights.


  • Depending on where your child was born, you may have needed to cross the state line in order to meet the newest member of your family. In this case, ICPC, or the Interstate Compact Placement of Children, will need to be followed. ICPC basically ensures that the laws and regulations of both states have been met during the adoption to keep the child safe.

  • The Indian Child Welfare Act helps to preserve the rights of Native American families and tribes during an adoption. If your child has eligibility as a member of a Native American tribe, you may need to receive clearance from ICWA before your finalization can be completed.

If either one or both of the above are applicable to your adoption, they will need to be completed before your adoption finalization in Rhode Island. Your adoption attorney will ensure these steps are handled appropriately for your situation.

What to Expect During Your Post-Placement Visit in Rhode Island

Just as you complete in-home visits during your home study, you will also have post-placement supervision visits after bringing home your child. This process will evaluate how well your family and new child are adjusting after placement. The social worker will look to see how well you are providing for your child’s needs and safety. These visits often continue until the adoption is legalized.

In Rhode Island, your social worker will visit at least twice after the child’s placement and before the final adoption decree is issued. The observations that your social worker makes during your post-placement visits will be used in recommending the finalization of your adoption.

Finalization Hearing in Rhode Island 

Your finalization hearing will typically take place three months to a year after placement, after all post-placement requirements have been met. The hearing will be brief and generally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. Here is what you can usually expect to happen during your finalization hearing:

  • The judge may ask you some questions about yourself and your reasons for adoption.

  • If you are adopting an older child, they will have to verbally confirm they wish to be adopted.

  • The judge will ask any final questions and sign the final decree of adoption.

  • The judge may ask you to take a group photo with your final adoption decree.

Once the court has issued your final decree of adoption in Rhode Island, your child will be a legally recognized member of your family. To mark this event, some adoptive families will invite their extended family and friends to the hearing. Don’t forget to bring a camera to take plenty of pictures after this huge milestone!

Life after Finalization

Once your adoption finalization is complete, you can request a new birth certificate and social security card for your child. Should you need any further assistance, an American Adoption specialist or an adoption attorney will be able to provide you more information about this step.

You may also have some type of open adoption communication after finalization. American Adoptions can help by facilitating your post-placement contact. Learn more about this service and others we offer for your adoption process in Rhode Island when you call 1-800-ADOPTION for free information.

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