An adoption decree certifies that you have adopted a child. Learn what to expect when applying and filing for adoption documents here.
The demand for adoption can create a highly competitive environment, with Americans making more local adoptions than the rest of the world combined. If you’re ready to build your forever family, it’s important to secure an adoption decree as early as possible. This allows you to solidify your legal bond with your child in a way that can’t be undone.
Whether you’re just beginning the adoption journey or about to finalize your adoption, keep reading to learn more about this vital document and how we can help you obtain it.
What Is an Adoption Decree?
An adoption decree is a document that makes the adoption of a child final and legally binding. It also serves as legal proof that the adoptive parents now have parental rights and responsibilities for the child.
Obtaining an Adoption Decree
You’ll have an adoption finalization hearing a few months after the child placement process ends.
During the hearing, adoptive parents can present their case before the judge. Testimony from adoptive parents, witnesses, or professionals may also be given.
An adoption decree will be issued if the judge decides the adoption aligns with the child’s best interests. This makes the adoptive parents official legal parents.
Eligibility Criteria for Adopting a Child in Minnesota
Understanding the eligibility criteria before entering the adoption process is essential for prospective adoptive parents. It allows you to assess your readiness and suitability for adoption.
Additionally, knowing the requirements in advance ensures that only those who meet the necessary criteria invest their time, emotions, and resources into the process.
Adoptive parents should be at least eighteen years of age. The minimum age requirement ensures parents can sign paperwork, pay bills, and provide for themselves and their children.
You must have sufficient household income to provide for the adopted child. This does not mean you have to be rich. However, you must be able to afford the essentials of child care, such as food and education, without running into financial problems.
The court will decide if you’re financially stable based on your income and assets.
If you plan on adopting special needs children, please note that many are eligible for a subsidy. It can offer extra financial support and insurance coverage until the child is eighteen. Sometimes, the subsidy lasts until the child is twenty-two.
In Massachusetts, this is known as an Adam Walsh Background Check. This check looks at the Department of Children and Families registry in the state. It finds out if the person being checked has any official reports of child abuse or neglect.
Background checks occur for all household members over the age of eighteen. Young residents under the age of eighteen may also be subject to investigation if there are grounds for suspicion.
All household members aged eighteen and above are required to submit their fingerprints for a comprehensive background check. This is done to confirm identities and to see if they have any criminal records.
Foster Care Training
After applying for adoption, completing the MAPP (Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting) course is mandatory. The training consists of approximately thirty hours of instruction.
Your social worker will enroll you in training sessions.
Home Study Process
The home study process requires you to submit documents and participate in an in-home visit and interview. This process helps determine the willingness of the adoptive parents to provide a loving and safe environment for the child.
Required Documents for the Home Study Process
Specific requirements for home studies vary by agency. You can request an adoption checklist for the items and information your agency needs.
Still, there are commonly required documents. Certified copies of your birth certificate, W-2 forms, and a statement of health are all needed. Other mandatory records might include:
- Verified copy of marriage record
- Criminal history clearances
- Character references
These requirements are basic guidelines. Additional assessments and documents may be necessary, depending on your circumstances or your agency’s policies. For example, divorcees may need copies of their divorce decree.
To ensure you meet the necessary conditions for a successful home study, consult with your agency.
The Role of an Adoption Attorney
Adoption attorneys play a crucial role in ensuring legal compliance and facilitating a smooth adoption journey. Here are some key tasks that an adoption attorney can handle on your behalf.
Termination of Parent’s Rights
The termination of parental rights can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. In most cases, it’s voluntary and done through an adoption attorney.
However, there are some circumstances when a court order may be necessary. For example, when the birth parents can’t care for the child due to mental health issues, addiction, etc. An attorney will take care of the legal aspects of involuntary termination.
In most cases, adoptive parents must obtain consent from their child’s biological parent before they can finalize an adoption. Your attorney will help you through the process of seeking legal permission.
Filing a Petition for Adoption
An adoption attorney will ensure the court receives the petition accurately and on time.
If you’re a family member of the child, your attorney may be able to waive the requirement for a home study.
Starting Background Checks
Background checks can take a few months. Understanding this time-consuming step, your attorney will guide you in initiating the process early, reducing unnecessary delays.
Obtaining a Birth Certificate
After you’ve adopted your child, your attorney will assist you in obtaining a new birth certificate. This new document reflects the legal parent-child relationship and is required for various administrative purposes.
The Keys to Successful Adoption
Getting an adoption decree is a key moment that legally cements your bond with your child. To navigate the process smoothly, we encourage you to book a guidance call with Johnson/Turner Legal.
What sets us apart is our simple, flat-rate pricing. You’ll have a clear idea of your legal adoption costs and can consult with us as often as you like, with no unexpected fees.
You’ll gain two paralegals, a client engagement specialist, and a life coach, all committed to guiding you every step of the way.