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Adoption Documents

Beyond the the initial home study to post-placement reports, adoptions can be paperwork intensive. Below are descriptions of some common adoption-related processes and documents.

  • Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)
    An interstate compact, or agreement, that has been enacted into law by all 50 states in the United States, and the District of Columbia, which controls the lawful movement of children from one state to another for the purposes of adoption. Both the originating state, where the child is born, and the receiving state, where the adoptive parents live and where the adoption of the child will take place, must approve the child's movement in writing before the child can legally leave the originating state. This Compact regulates the interstate movement of both foster children and adoptive children.
  • Legal Publication
    Within our constitutionally based legal system, in order for substantial personal rights (like parental rights), of constitutionally protected individuals (like birthparents), to be terminated or destroyed in a legal proceeding (like an adoption), the affected individuals must be given adequate notice of the legal proceeding, and a reasonable opportunity to present evidence and witnesses in their own defense. The law requires that the most reasonably effective means of providing that notice under the circumstances be used to give this required notice to the party whose rights are in jeopardy of being lost or destroyed. Personal service is the preferred means of providing this notice. When personal service is not possible because the affected individual cannot be located, especially when that is the result of this individual hiding, the law allows the required notice to be published in a newspaper of general circulation that services the last know location of that individual. If this is done correctly, this publication will constitute valid legal notice.
  • Consent to Adopt
    The document that is voluntarily signed by the birthparents in an adoption that allows the adoptive parents to adopt their child. In most states it must be signed in front of witnesses and a Notary Public. State law varies widely concerning when the earliest point in time is when a binding Consent may be signed by a birth parent, with the earliest being before the child is born and the latest being 15 days after the birth. In some states a Consent is irrevocable when signed, meaning it cannot later be taken back or voided by a birthparent, unless it can be shown that it was executed in an improper form or way, or at an improper time, or that it was obtained as the result of fraud, misrepresentation, force or duress. Generally, a Consent to Adoption differs from a Relinquishment that is most often used in an agency adoption, since a Consent to Adoption passes the parental rights of the birthparents directly to the adoptive parents that they have chosen, while the Relinquishment passes the parental rights to the agency, which in turn passes them on to adoptive parents, which may or may not have been selected by the birthparents.
  • Decree of Adoption
    The document that a judge signs to finalize an adoption. It formally creates the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parents and the adopted child, as though the child were born as the biological child of its new parents. It places full responsibility for the child on its new parents and changes the name of the child to the name selected by its new parents, and orders a new birth certificate to be prepared and issued for the child. If the parental rights of the biological parents of the child are being terminated by way of their voluntary consents as part of the adoption action, the Decree will also formally terminate those parental rights.
  • Post-Placement Report
    A written report that is prepared for the country/court in an adoption case by an adoption social worker that makes a series of personal visits to the home of the adoptive parents. The purpose of these post-placement visits is to observe how well the child and the prospective adoptive parents are bonding to each other and how the child is fitting into the family. This report will also contain a recommendation by the caseworker, based on the social worker's personal observations and interactions with the child and the members of the adoptive family, concerning whether or not the caseworker thinks it would be in the "best interests of the child" for the proposed adoption of this child by these adoptive parents to take place. In almost all cases, the country/court will follow the recommendation that the social worker makes in the Post Placement Report, and in almost all cases, this recommendation will be that the adoption be allowed to take place.

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