How to Finalize Your Adoption in West Virginia
Complete Your WV Adoption
The last, and highly anticipated, step of the West Virginia adoption process is adoption finalization. Once the adoption has been finalized and you receive the final decree of adoption in West Virginia, your child will be an official and permanent member of your family!
Finalization is an exciting step in the WV adoption process, but adoption finalization cannot occur until the following steps have been completed:
Termination of Parental Rights: Your child’s birth parents must terminate their parental rights after the child is born. In West Virginia, birth parents must wait at least 72 hours and have a lawyer present before signing.
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): ICWA is a federal law that was enacted to preserve American Indian tribes and families. Should your child have any Native American heritage, your adoption must meet ICWA clearances before proceeding.
Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC): In order to protect the best interest of children, ICPC was created to monitor adoptions that occur across state lines. If you adopted your child outside of West Virginia, you will need to obtain ICPC clearances before traveling back home.
Post-Placement Visits: Upon returning home with your child, your West Virginia home study professional will conduct a series of post-placement in-home visits to ensure that everyone is adjusting well to their new lives.
Once all of these things have been completed (typically about six months after placement) a West Virginia adoption finalization hearing will be scheduled in your local district court. Your American Adoptions specialist and your adoption attorney will let you know when and where the hearing will take place, and what additional paperwork you may need to collect before that date.
What to Expect in Your WV Adoption Finalization Hearing
Your adoption finalization hearing will be an exciting event in your family’s history. In most cases, you will be given the opportunity to invite friends and family to witness the finalization. Some adoptive families may even have a party afterwards or invite a photographer to capture the occasion.
At the West Virginia adoption finalization hearing, the judge will review the adoption records to ensure all legal processes have been completed. The proceedings are usually brief and take about 30-60 minutes. A typical adoption finalization hearing in West Virginia will look like this:
Your family, attorney, and possibly your social worker will be sworn into the court.
You will be asked to introduce yourself and answer a few questions about your motivation to adopt and your understanding of the adoption process. You will be asked to confirm for the judge that you will provide a safe and loving home for the child.
If you are adopting a child over the age of 12, he or she will be asked to verbally confirm that he or she wishes to be adopted.
The judge may ask a few additional questions of your attorney or social worker.
The judge will conclude the hearing by signing the final adoption decree.
The judge will likely invite everyone to take a picture to commemorate the occasion.
You’re done! Your child’s adoption is final and he or she is now a legal and permanent member of your family!
After the Decree of Adoption is Issued in West Virginia
After the final adoption decree has been issued, you can file for an amended birth certificate and social security card for your child. Your American Adoption specialist will continue to be available to you as a source of information and support, should you need them.
American Adoptions is also available to facilitate ongoing communication between you and your child’s birth family after placement. We are also here to help you navigate post-adoption life and address any questions or concerns you may have. For more information on how to finalize an adoption in West Virginia, call 1-800-ADOPTION or request free information online.
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