Waiting, waiting, waiting is what you did most during the process to adopt your child. Nevertheless, the waiting is not what you will remember. Your most vivid memory will be the first time you saw your child and the day you brought your new son or daughter home. All the waiting, anxiety and frustration faded away in the moments you spent holding, studying and talking to your child.

However, as connected as you may feel or hope to feel with the child who is now part of your family, you still have some legal steps to complete. In fact, your adopted child is not legally yours until you take these last two steps.

More home visits?

You may think you have had enough of interviews, examinations and home visits. These elements of the adoption process can be quite stressful, but you certainly understand the importance of a careful screening for those who apply to adopt children, whether through the Iowa foster care program, a private domestic adoption or an international placement.

With all the caution adoption agencies use in finding homes for children, they want to be certain the placement is the right fit. This is why you must prepare for at least three more visits in the months after your child comes to live with you. The agent who comes to your home will observe the child in his or her new environment and talk with you about your experience so far. You can feel free to ask questions and request advice.

Finalization hearing

After the completion of your post-placement visits, you will receive an appointment for your finalization hearing with a family court judge. It will be essential that you have satisfied all legal issues before that time, including:

  • Ensuring the termination of the rights of the birth parents
  • Addressing any complications that may result if you adopted a child from outside Iowa, including an international adoption
  • Complying with the Indian Child Welfare Act if the child you adopted is eligible for protection under this law

You would be wise to seek the assistance of an attorney at any time during the adoption process to make sure these and other legal matters receive full attention. Your attorney can also represent you at your finalization hearing during which the judge will ask you questions about your desire to adopt the child. Once the judge signs your adoption finalization, your attorney can then assist you in obtaining a new birth certificate for your child.