Once parental rights are terminated by court order and the child is ordered legally freed for adoption, several forms are required to be filed with the court clerk before an adoption court case number will be assigned and a hearing date selected (by the clerk) for your adoption finalization court hearing. In California, a court hearing is required to finalize an adoption. You and the child will need to appear before a judge and a few questions will be asked of you as a formality, and then the judge will sign an adoption order finalizing your adoption.
You can probably have some input into the selection of a date for your hearing. Most adoption court clerks are open to suggestions from adoptive parents and lawyers about dates. It is helpful to provide the clerk with a few alternative dates. Otherwise, the clerk will schedule a date that is most convenient for the court. In some counties, adoptions are finalized only on certain days of the week. Fridays are common in Los Angeles. In some counties, you will be asked to limit the number of guests invited to witness the hearing, and to provide a number (and maybe names). If you plan on taking photographs or video inside the courtroom, most courts have rules and procedures that must be followed to bring cameras into court. Ask well in advance.
Note: a finalization hearing date will not be set until the child’s adoption worker has submitted a report and any other documentation required by the court. You can help speed things along by staying in close touch with your child’s adoption worker to make sure the file has not been placed at the bottom of the file or misplaced.
In 2013, California courts use the following forms to finalize adoptions (some are optional or may not be required in your child’s case):
FAM 020 Court Assignment Cover Sheet
ADOPT 200 Adoption Request (aka Adoption Petition)
ADOPT 210 Adoption Agreement
ADOPT 215 Adoption Order
ADOPT 230 Adoption Expenses
ADOPT 310 Contact After Adoption
Proof of Service
If child is Indian (Native American), the following forms may also be required:
Forms may be obtained from the court website: