Court Procedures

ALL adoptions must be approved by a court. The adoptive parents must file a petition with the court and go through an adoption hearing. Before the hearing, anyone who is required to consent to the adoption must receive notice. This will most likely include the biological parents, the adoption agency, the child's legal representative if a court has appointed one and the child if he or she is old enough (typically 12 to 14 years old). States vary on the particular notice requirements, so you must check your state's laws. At the hearing, if the court determines that the adoption is in the child's best interest, the judge will issue an order (called a final decree of adoption) approving and finalizing the adoption. This order will legalize the relationship between the child and his or her adoptive parents, and usually changes the child's name to the name the adoptive parents have chosen.