Finalization of an adoption is the last official step before the adoption is made legal, and the adoptive parents and child are made a forever family. However, what is involved in the finalization of a legal adoption?

Requirements to Finalize Adoption

Arizona laws must be followed through each step of the way to get to finalization of the adoption, but these requirements include:

  • Both birth parents have either signed away their legal rights, or these have been terminated legally by a court.
  • All compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has been made and clearance given. The ICWA is a federal law that requires certain legal proceedings if an adoption involves a child of any federally-recognized tribe.
  • Clearance has been given via Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children if the child crossed state lines for the purpose of the adoption.
  • Post-placement visits have been made with the adoptive family and appropriately reported to the court.

Once all of these and other required steps have been made, the next step is the final adoption hearing.

What to Expect at the Finalization Hearing

The final adoption hearing is the event the family has been waiting for, and it is normally set approximately three months after the child is placed with the adoptive family and after all Arizona post-placement requirements have been met.

The attorney will notify the court that all requirements are complete and that the family is ready for the final hearing. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, and the attorney will ensure that all of the required paperwork is submitted to the judge in advance. Therefore, the adoption hearing itself can focus solely on the adoptive family and not the paperwork.

A finalization hearing will normally last around 10-15 minutes. At that time, the adoptive family and possibly the social workers involved will be sworn in before the court. The adoption attorney will question the family on their motivation to adopt and their understanding that adoption is a permanent event. The family will also be asked to explain why they feel they will be able to provide a forever and loving home to the child being adopted.

If the child is older, sometimes the judge will want to ask the older child questions about how he or she feels about the adoption. Depending on the type of adoption and the circumstances surrounding it, the judge may have a few additional questions of the family, but do not worry.

The questions being asked are not going to be tough questions. In fact, if the family has been wanting this finalization for a long time now, these will be some of the easiest questions they will ever have to answer. The judge simply needs these statements and reassurances that this child will be forever brought into a stable and loving family on the record.

The hearing will conclude by the judge signing the final adoption decree. Many times, the judge will also allow for pictures with the new family. After this point, it is time to celebrate the new, forever family that has been created.

What Happens After the Finalization Hearing?

A few more steps need to be taken before everything is finished. The adoption is legal and complete, so now the family needs to apply for a new birth certificate for the child and a social security card.

If any issues come up while the adoptive family is trying to finish these last few steps, the adoption attorney or placement agency can be of assistance.

The term finalization can be deceiving in that it signifies that something is coming to an end. That could not be any farther from the truth when it comes to an adoption. The finalization process is actually the start of something beautiful and amazing as you begin your lives as a permanent, forever family.

If You Are Thinking Adoption, Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today

At Stuart & Blackwell, we understand just how stressful the adoption process can be. We’re here to help you find the path to adoption that’s right for you. Every adoption is as unique as the adoptive parents themselves, but the journey doesn’t have to be harrowing.

We specialize in Arizona adoption law, and we have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help you welcome your child into your loving home. Contact us at (480) 420 2900 today for your free consultation.