Happy adoptive family with the judge at their son's adoption finalizationBringing a child into your family is exciting! You may have spent months praying about each step as you walked through the adoption process, and now you’re finally nearing the end. The adoption finalization is basically the last step in the entire process.
Here are some common things you can expect during your adoption finalization.

What Happens During an Adoption Finalization?

Every state is a little different in how they finalize adoptions. In adoption, the finalization hearing can occur anywhere from three to six months after placement.
Since every state has different adoption laws, there can be some different post-placement conditions you need to satisfy before the adoption finalization court hearing. The conditions that must be accomplished before the adoption finalization can happen to include:

Your adoption professional will keep you updated and informed about all the legal processes and everything you’ll need to do.

Where Does the Adoption Finalization Take Place?

Most adoption finalizations happen in a courtroom, but today more and more judges prefer to do the final adoption hearing on a video call or through FaceTime. Don’t worry about the process since your adoption specialists can guide you through each step, including the adoption finalization court hearing. An adoption attorney and your adoption specialist will schedule the hearing for you.

What Will Happen at the Hearing?

The hearing is closed to the public, but your family and friends are welcome to attend. All the paperwork will be reviewed so that everything is ready to go by the time you get there. The entire proceeding is short, usually less than 30 minutes. Here is a list of the events that typically happen at an adoption finalization hearing.

    Adoptive family formed through Lifetime's help poses with the judge at their son's adoption finalization

  1. You, the adoptive parents, your adopted child, and your adoption attorney will be invited into the courtroom or the judge’s chambers. Then, you will stand in front of the judge for a swearing-in.
  2. Your attorney will ask you to introduce yourselves and then ask you to tell the judge why the adoption should happen. You’ll be asked a few questions to demonstrate that you understand what adoption is and your commitment to the child, even if you and your partner should separate or divorce.
  3. Your attorney will ask you to verify that you will provide a loving home for the child. The judge will talk with you in a friendly manner and invite you and your entire family to get a picture altogether. This photo will make a wonderful picture to show your adopted child someday and explain to them the significance of this day.
  4. The judge will then sign the decree of adoption and any other papers connected to the adoption, such as payment for living expenses to the birth mother or termination of the birth father’s parental rights.

You will get two certified copies of the decree to keep in your records. Keep the certified copies in a safe place at home for your child.

Your Child’s Birth Certificate

Once the judge finishes the adoption finalization proceedings, a new birth certificate will be created for the adopted child. The third and last copy of the decree that got signed by the judge will be sent to the state, which will then send you your adopted child’s new birth certificate. It will list you, the adoptive parents, as the “natural parents.”
If your adopted child was born in a different state, both states will need to communicate about providing a new birth certificate for your adopted child. It may take a couple of months to receive a new birth certificate.
Once the judge has signed the decree and the adoption finalization has occurred, it’s almost impossible to challenge the adoption. The only reason this could happen would be due to fraud, but that’s unlikely to happen at this late moment.
Adoption finalization day is a day to celebrate as you welcome home a new member of your family!

Lifetime Adoption: A Domestic Open Adoption Agency

Right now, you might be wondering about what it takes to adopt a baby. We understand that you probably have several different questions that need to be answered and clarified before you can confidently step into the journey of adopting a baby.
Everything you share with Lifetime Adoption Agency will remain confidential. We’re here to help you create an adoption plan that fits your unique situation.
No matter where you are in life — an expectant mom looking for answers or a couple looking to welcome a child into your home — we look forward to serving you.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.
Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is a nationally-recognized adoption expert and the Founder of Lifetime Adoption Agency. She has been working in adoption since 1986 and is also an award-winning author and speaker.

Mardie knows the sorrow of coping with infertility, and is an adoptive parent who experienced many of the challenges adoptive families might face. In various media appearances worldwide, publications, and her podcast, Mardie important steps that must be taken to complete a safe and secure adoption. Having adopted her son, Mardie knows firsthand the joys of raising an adopted child.

Mardie’s life mission is to help adoptive parents and birth parents find each other. With Lifetime Adoption Agency, she seeks to build happy families and provide precious infants and children with a loving and secure future.