The legal proceeding for adoption is different in every state. Compared to other states, Alabama’s legal proceeding for adoptions is fairly simple.
Typically, there is one legal proceeding that follows physical placement of a child in your home, which is the Finalization Hearing. Before that hearing, however, there are several important documents to be filed. The first filing includes the Petition for Adoption, and occurs about 10 days after placement. The Petition for Adoption is filed in the county in which the main office of the Agency is located or where the Adoptive Parents reside within the State of Alabama, and informs the Judge of the Adoption Plan, thus beginning your legal journey to Finalization.
After the Petition for Adoption is filed, an Interlocutory Decree will be granted, delegating temporary custody of the adoptee to the adoptive parents. This temporary custody endows the adoptive parents with legal authority to make all necessary decisions for the adoptee, pending the final outcome of the adoption proceedings.
The final legal proceeding is a formal hearing, before the Probate Judge. This hearing is sometimes referred to as the Depositional Hearing, or Final Hearing. This hearing is typically set for no later than 120 days after the petition has been filed. At this important proceeding, you as the Adoptive Parent are asked to testify under oath that you assume all financial, physical, emotional, and spiritual responsibility over the child whom you’ve adopted.
In the final hearing, the judge ensures that:
(1) The child has been with the adoptive parents for 60 days.
(2) All necessary consents, relinquishments, waivers, or terminations have been obtained and filed with the court.
(3) Notice of the adoption has been sent to all parties for which it is required.
(4) All contests (in the event that the adoption has been contested) to the adoption have been resolved in favor of the petitioner.
(5) Each “petitioner” (adoptive parent) is suitable to parent the child and wants to establish a parent/child relationship with the adoptee.
(6) The best interests of the adoptee are being served.
If the court is satisfied that the adoption is in the child’s best interests and all legal requirements have been satisfied, the court will issue a Final Decree of Adoption. This Final Decree inherently terminates the biological parent’s rights, creates a new legal person, and attaches new parental rights to you as the Adoptive Parent. And they all lived happily ever after!
Article by Haley Horn.
References made to Alabama Adoption Code can be found at http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/coatoc.htm
Photo courtesy of Joe Gratz https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243/in/photolist-bkUna-ouchro-tmarfL-quyT1N-tAzbkQ-tmfA4B-w9BLYn-oui9zU-rnwRFo-qvABVB-rq8Ko6-rrHqpR-rqbcck-rq5ZVQ-od98xt-rq61xm-wY8Hew-x6SyoV-wZ6ovD-ouqcNt-sFYWHM-tCoXqq-raCxn2-tB5kvA