Prior to a finalization hearing, child adoption law dictates that certain elements be in order. First of all, a pre-placement home study should previously have been completed by a licensed social worker, and in the event of an international adoption, all petitions and applications for the child’s immigration should have been filed, acknowledged, accepted and returned by Citizenship and Immigration Services.
For the express purpose of finalization, though, legal forms must be correctly completed. Parents may choose to act independently with this step, but are generally encouraged to enlist the help of an attorney proficient in child adoption law.
It should be noted that, as a part of the adoption finalization process, a preliminary hearing will usually be held with the judge prior to the finalization hearing. The parties will be apprised of the court date after the legal forms are processed. As one’s attorney may have helped with completion of said forms, so too should he or she help prepare his or her client(s) for this session in which the judge will address and question the participating parties.
Come time for the final throes of the finalization process, one last hearing will be held, at which attorneys as well as friends and family may be present. All relevant documents and comments from the social worker appointed to a particular case will be reviewed, and if all goes well, an adoption certificate will be issued. Following the finalization hearing, previous birth certificates should be sealed and new birth certificates reflecting the change to the child’s legal guardianship should be drafted.
In the arena of child adoption, it is quite rare that any challenges to finalization should arise. Nonetheless, though it may be hard to prove, a birth parent might allege he or she was forced to give up his/her child under duress, or an adoptive family might bring up charges of wrongful adoption if critical medical information was witheld from them by a coordinating agency.