If you have not yet started working with an attorney, you will need an attorney to finalize your adoption. The process is slightly different based upon the type of adoption and the particular judge assigned to your case.
For a private adoption of an infant, the adoption petition needs to be filed within 10 days of the placement. There is then a waiting period of 3 months before the Court can finalize the adoption. During that period, any issues with the birth father will be resolved. For a second-parent or step-parent adoption, the time the adopting parent has lived with the child prior to filing the adoption petition can be counted towards the waiting period.
For a private agency adoption, if there has been a surrender by a birth parent that contains conditions for post-adoption contact, the surrender will need to be submitted to the Court for approval. After that, the Court will schedule a permanency hearing within 30 days. Sometimes, the Court will consolidate the permanency hearing with either the surrender approval or the finalization. The permanency hearing involves the agency giving the Court an update on the status of the child. In the meantime, your adoption petition will be filed with the Court, the agency will file various documents with the Court, and any issues with the birth father will be resolved. Once the waiting period has elapsed, the finalization can be scheduled.
For a foster care adoption, the permanency hearings that have been ongoing during the family court case will continue, but the birth parents will no longer be present. Your adoption petition will be filed with the Court and the foster care agency will also file various documents with the Court. You will also work with the foster care agency to finalize the adoption subsidy for the child.
For foster care and private agency adoptions, the Court typically assigns an Attorney for the Child. That attorney will reach out to you to come to your home and meet the child to be adopted and make sure there are no issues that need to be reported to the Court.
Each Court handles finalizations slightly differently and our office can tell you what to expect from the particular judge or surrogate handling your case. In all finalizations, you will need to sign a few final forms and acknowledge your signature on a few forms you previously submitted. You will acknowledge that you still want to move forward with the adoption and that you understand that the child will be legally your child forevermore. The Court will then sign the Order of Adoption and the process will be complete.
The finalization is a happy occasion and you can invite as many family and friends as you would like. After the formal process is over, you are free to take pictures in the courtroom.
At the finalization or soon after, you will receive the Order of Adoption and Certificate of Adoption. You will use these to change your child’s name with insurance, medical providers, school, daycare, etc., prior to receiving your child’s new birth certificate. Once you receive the new birth certificate, you can use it to apply for a social security card and passport, if needed.