One of the most pressing questions that adoptive parents have before the adoption process starts is: when does the adoption become final? Many adoptive parents want to know when the baby or child is legally theirs. Although it is an important question, it can be challenging to answer in some cases. Learn more about the adoption process and how adoptions usually become final in the state of Florida. 

What Does “Final” Mean in Adoption?

It is important to define what it means when adoption is considered “final.” Adoption is final or legal when the court of law declares that it is. This means that oftentimes finalization doesn’t happen quickly and can be a drawn-out process. The following steps must be completed before an adoption is considered finalized in Florida.

Birth Parents Terminate Parental Rights

If the birth father is known, both birth parents need to consent to the adoption by terminating their own parental rights to the child. Prospective birth fathers may be able to agree before the child’s birth. However, birth mothers are required to wait at least 48 hours after birth to consent to the termination of their parental rights.

Adoptive Parents Agreement

The state of Florida requires that adoptive parents comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and/or the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) when the adoptive parents live in a different state. 

Placement in Your Home

In a perfect world, adoption would become finalized, and then adoptive parents would welcome the child home with open arms. However, our world is anything but perfect. The legal requirements for adoption require time and don’t always happen on our schedule. However, children are often placed within their adoptive families before the legal paperwork is finalized in the interest of family bonding. 

Required Home Study Visits

Adoptive parents much complete at least 3 post-placement visits in the home with their home study professional. These visits address any kind of questions or issues concerning the adoption and the well being of the child. They are also a good way to show progression in parenting and the relationship between the child, parents, and siblings, if applicable. 

Final Court Hearing

Your adoption finalization hearing will be scheduled several months after your child comes home. This hearing usually takes place in your local circuit court, and it is often a joyous occasion when your child officially and legally becomes part of your family forever. 

Remember that your home study professional and adoption agency will be with you every step of the way. Feel free to ask questions and share concerns that you have about the process.