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How to Finalize Your Adoption in South Dakota

Understanding the South Dakota Adoption Finalization Process

Adoption finalization is the last step in the South Dakota adoption process. Once you have completed the steps needed for finalization, you can celebrate your child’s official status as a legal member of your family. Before you can get dressed up for your finalization hearing, however, you’ll need to make sure that a few items have been checked off of your to-do list:

  • The birth parents have consented to the adoption and terminated their parental rights. In South Dakota, birth parents may not consent to adoption until at least five days after the child is born.

  • You have completed all post-placement visits with your South Dakota home study professional. They will be evaluating how well your family is adjusting to placement, and the observations that your social worker makes during post-placement visits will be used in recommending the final decree of adoption.

  • You have received clearance from the Indian Child Welfare Act and/or the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, if applicable to your adoption.

Your South Dakota adoption finalization hearing will be scheduled with your local district court. Your adoption specialist and your adoption attorney will let you know if you need to provide any additional documents before your hearing.

What Your SD Adoption Finalization Hearing Will Look Like

At the South Dakota adoption finalization hearing, the judge will issue a final decree of adoption. This will be will be the very last step of your adoption process. Once you receive your final decree of adoption in South Dakota, your child has officially met all the legal requirements to become a member of your family.

For this special occasion, some adoptive parents will invite their close friends and extended family to help them celebrate the event. You can even invite a photographer or bring your own camera to take pictures so that you can remember this moment forever.

Typically, a finalization hearing will only take 30-60 minutes. This is what you can usually expect to happen during the actual hearing:

Step 1: The adoptive family, family attorney, and sometimes your social worker are sworn in before a judge.

Step 2: A judge may ask the adoptive family to introduce themselves and explain their reasons for adoption.

Step 3: The judge will ask any closing questions and then sign the final decree of adoption.

Step 4: After the final decree of adoption is signed, the judge may invite your family to take a group photo.

After the Final Decree of Adoption in South Dakota

After your adoption finalization in South Dakota is complete, you can apply for a new birth certificate and social security card. If you are completing an international adoption, you may need to complete an additional adoption finalization in South Dakota (known as a re-adoption) in order to receive a U.S. birth certificate. Even though the process is not required for every international adoption, it is strongly suggested that you complete a re-adoption in order to protect your parental rights in every state.

Even though your adoption is completed, most adoptive parents will have some degree of contact with the birth parents after the final decree of adoption has been signed. The amount of contact that you have will depend on your family and the birth parents. American Adoptions will be able to help facilitate ongoing contact with you and the birth family during an open adoption.

For more information on the process of adoption in South Dakota with our agency, please call 1-800-ADOPTION. Your adoption specialist or adoption attorney will also be able to answer any lingering questions that you have about anything from post-placement requirements to the finalization procedure.

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