How to Finalize Your Adoption in Texas
The Home Stretch to Completing Your TX Adoption
The moment you meet your baby for the first time will be one you’ll never forget. You’ve gone through a lot to get to this point — years of trying, mounds of paperwork, months of waiting — and it was all leading up to this. It will feel like the long-awaited finish line.
But, while placement is an absolutely amazing milestone in any adoption journey, it’s not quite the end of the road yet. You still have one important step left to complete your Texas adoption process: finalization.
After you take your baby home, there will be a few post-placement requirements you’ll have to meet before your Texas adoption process officially ends with an adoption finalization hearing. At that point, a judge will grant your final decree of adoption, and your child will officially be a permanent and legal member of your family.
Before Texas adoption finalization occurs and the final decree of adoption is issued, the judge will review your adoption to ensure that:
Your child’s birth parents have issued their consent to the adoption with their lawyer present, effectively terminating their parental rights (Note: birth mothers must wait at least 48 hours after the birth of their child in order to offer their consent to adoption in Texas)
You’ve complied with the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and/or the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), if applicable
Your Texas home study professional has completed the required number of post-placement in-home visits
All other applicable adoption laws were followed and the adoption is in the child’s best interest
Your Texas adoption attorney and American Adoptions adoption specialist will be in touch with you about your adoption finalization hearing, which is scheduled several months after placement. They’ll let you know if there’s any additional paperwork that you need to complete and when the adoption hearing is scheduled for. Texas adoptions are handled in your local district court.
What You Can Expect at Your Texas Adoption Finalization Hearing
An adoption finalization hearing is when a judge issues the final decree of adoption and the Texas adoption process is officially completed. This is a cause for celebration; families often invite family and friends to the hearing, throw a party, or have a photographer take some photos.
Some adoptive parents are nervous about what to expect at the TX adoption finalization hearing, but your attorney will be there to help you prepare and ensure all of the requirements have been met ahead of time. The hearing itself is short, and usually lasts less than an hour — in fact, it sometimes only lasts about twenty minutes or so! Here’s what happens in a typical Texas adoption finalization hearing:
You will be sworn in before the judge, along with your adoption attorney and sometimes your social worker
You’ll answer some questions about why you wanted to adopt, your ability to provide your child with a safe and loving home and other questions similar to those asked in your Texas adoption home study
The judge concludes with any final questions or statements for you or your social worker, and then signs the final decree of adoption
Your family and the judge may take a group photo with the final adoption decree, if you like
After that, your child’s adoption is officially finalized, and the Texas adoption process is completed.
After the Final Decree of Adoption is Issued in Texas
Following a Texas adoption finalization, you’ll be able to file for an amended birth certificate and your child’s social security card. Your adoption attorney can help you complete these steps. However, your adoption journey still doesn’t end there — in fact, it’s one that will continue through your child’s lifetime.
Even once your adoption has been finalized in Texas, this journey will continue to shape your and your child’s lives in the years to come. You will need to continue your relationship with your child’s birth family through open adoption, familiarize yourself with the unique experiences of adoptees, and raise your child to have a strong sense of identity. Adoption should be an ongoing and celebrated topic of conversation in your home.
Remember, if you ever have any questions, want help facilitating your ongoing communication with your child’s birth family, or need support, you can always contact American Adoptions for help.
For additional questions about how to finalize an adoption in Texas, you can always call your adoption specialist or contact American Adoptions online.
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