“Real Parent (n): Any parent who is not imaginary.”
You’ve been a real parent for quite a while; now let’s make it official.
We understand that you have been waiting for what seems like a lifetime to know for certain that your little one will forever be your child. Even though everything is on track for adoption, it will be a great relief to hear a judge declare that this child is now legally your own child, whose last name shall henceforth be yours! The last thing you want to endure at this point is further delay.
Our internal process is designed to make your case move efficiently and quickly. Our commitment to you is that we will do everything possible to hasten your finalization day.
Once a permanent plan of adoption has been ordered and your case has been transferred to the Adoptions Unit of your county’s social services agency, you will receive notification that you may proceed to set your case for an adoption finalization hearing.
You may choose to either file the necessary paperwork yourself, represent yourselves through the process, which many people do, wait for a County Adoption Day and receive a pro bono attorney to file the required paperwork, or you may choose to retain your own attorney to represent you. Once the necessary paperwork is filed, the Adoption Request must be sent to your adoptions worker so he or she can complete their Court Report of Adoption and file it with the Court. At that point, more paperwork is filed with the Court requesting a hearing date and you are notified of the hearing date several weeks later. The final step is for you to attend a very quick, happy hearing with your child to sign consents to the adoption in front of a judicial officer and hear that wonderful decree of final adoption.
The Court Order is then sent to the State of California’s Office of Vital Records who will issue a new birth certificate for your child, naming you as the parents. Friends and family are encouraged to attend the happy event.
How can we determine the appropriate Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) rate?
The State of California has detailed criteria for determining the appropriate funding (AAP) rate for your child. Those payments continue until the child reaches eighteen, after adoption as well as before. It’s important to review your AAP rate and services prior to adoption finalization, as changing the rate becomes significantly more difficult once the adoption is finalized. Our office is very familiar with the rate criteria and will assist you in determining if your child is receiving the proper funding.
Why should we hire your firm to complete our Fost-Adopt Finalization?
While it is possible to complete the adoption paperwork on your own, we suggest retaining an attorney to do it, both to review the appropriate AAP rate and to speed the process by reducing mistakes and re-do’s, which cost time. ALG’s attorneys have finalized hundreds of foster-adoptions and are committed to doing everything we can to getting your case set for a final adoption hearing quickly and painlessly.
How much do you charge to finalize a Fost-Adopt case?
Your county will reimburse you for up to $400 in legal fees. We charge a flat rate of $500 to prepare and file all necessary pleadings and documents and to review your case to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate AAP rate. Most clients do not find it necessary for us to appear at the finalization hearing with them, as the legal work is completed by the time of the hearing. However, if you would like us to attend the final hearing with you, we are happy to do so for an additional $250.
How long will the process take?
From the time you retain us, the process will typically take about three months to finalization, assuming that you return documents quickly, the adoptions social worker files their Court Report in a timely fashion, and the courtroom hearing your case has dates available quickly upon receiving the ready file. AAP issues could delay the process a bit as we work to ensure that your child is receiving proper monthly funding.
What happens on the day of our fost-adopt finalization hearing?
Dress up, invite your friends and family, bring your cameras and make reservations for a celebratory lunch! We will meet you at the designated courtroom and represent you at the hearing. You will sign your Agreement to the Adoption, as will your child if he or she is twelve years or older, and the judge will declare the adoption final. We hope you tear up, as it’s embarrassing when we cry more than our clients.