Missouri Adoption Finalization Guide

There’s a moment every hopeful adoptive parent dreams of. You know the one — it comes after a long wait for an adoption opportunity, then another wait until you actually meet your child. That meeting — whether at a hospital, your front door or a care center for waiting children — is the moment that changes every parent’s life. Holding your child for the first time, looking into their eyes — it’s all nearly indescribable. But, it may surprise you to learn that this amazing moment is not the end of the adoption process. There’s still one step left: finalization. We’ve created this guide to the finalization process in Missouri adoption courts to help any hopeful parent understand what to expect after placement. It’s of paramount importance that you meet the requirements of finalization. In this guide, we’ll cover how to do that and whom you can look to for help to obtain your Missouri certificate of adoption decree.

Missouri Adoption Finalization Professionals

Hopeful parents work with helpful adoption professionals throughout the process. From agencies for placing services, adoption home study providers, local Missouri adoption courts and more, there’s a lot of expertise involved in successfully completing an adoption. Similarly, you don’t have to prepare for Missouri adoption court proceedings alone. There are two key professionals during this stage of the process:
  • Your finalizing attorney
  • Your adoption agency
At this point in the process, your finalizing attorney is running point. You will most likely already be working with an attorney before placement, and they will be vital in preparing for your Missouri adoption court hearing to receive your decree of adoption in Missouri. Are you still at the stage of your journey where you are searching for an adoption attorney? If you are already working with an agency (more on that below), then they may be able to recommend someone to you. If not, consider some of these Missouri law practices: Your adoption agency will play a part in your process from start to finish, including the Missouri adoption court hearing. Usually, the agency plays more of a supporting role to the attorney when it comes to finalization. However, they are still an indispensable resource. Looking for an agency that can meet your needs during the adoption process? Here are a few private agencies in Missouri to consider:

The Post-Placement Process

The Missouri adoption court hearing is the very last step of the process. In between placement and this hearing, there’s a mini-process of its own to complete. At various points, you’ll be in contact with your agency, home study provider and attorney. Post-placement visits are the most important part of this process. You may already be aware of the home study that’s required before you can receive placement of a child. Now that placement has occurred, a similar process will happen. A social worker — often the same one from the home study — will stop by your home for several visits to observe how everyone is adapting to the placement. The social worker will create a report that must be submitted and reviewed by a judge before the judge can issue the certificate of decree of adoption in Missouri. If you have any specific questions about your post-placement visits, speak with your agency and home study provider.

What to Expect at Your Missouri Adoption Court Hearing

Once the post-placement visits have been completed, it’s time for the Missouri adoption court hearing to finalize the adoption. Your attorney will help you get everything scheduled with a local county court and make sure all the necessary documents have been submitted on time. At your hearing, a judge will swear in all the members of your family. You will be asked questions about the responsibilities of parenting and your commitment to the child. The judge may have a short speech prepared. At the end, the judge will issue your Missouri certificate of adoption. This is a celebratory moment, and it’s common for families to take pictures with the judge. You may also want to invite family and friends for the hearing. Most Missouri adoption court hearings take place at a local county courthouse. However, it is becoming more common for hearings to happen virtually over video chat. Work with your attorney to figure out whether your hearing will be in-person or online.

What to Do After Your Missouri Adoption Court Hearing

Don’t move on to the items in this section too fast. You’ve just reached the end of a long and emotional journey. Take the time to soak it in and enjoy your family. When you’re ready, there are a few practical things to add to your “To Do” list. Many adoptive families will file for an amended birth certificate once the adoption is final. Filling out the paperwork and waiting for the request to be processed can take some time, so don’t wait too long to start. This is something your attorney can help you with. The next thing to consider once your Missouri adoption court hearing is over is the post-placement relationship you will have with the birth parents. This (typically) only applies to those who went through a domestic infant adoption process. The communication plan will already be in place, as you will have worked with the birth parent(s) and your adoption specialist on a plan throughout the process. Now, think about how you’ll fulfill your obligations and, more than that, find special ways to invest in this important relationship. Finally, you can begin (or continue) to educate yourself on the joys and challenges of parenting. Prepare for the unique situations that will come up when raising a child who came home through adoption, and spend time learning about how to be a parent in a transracial family, if your child is a different race. It’s a never-ending journey, and there are plenty of resources out there that can help.

Get in Touch with a Professional

Contact us today if you’d like to speak with an adoption specialist about your Missouri adoption court hearing. There’s a lot to learn, and hearing answers to your specific questions can give you a sense of confidence about your process.