Attend your stepparent adoption hearing

It can be helpful to know some of the basics about what happens during a stepparent adoption hearing.

Check in when you arrive

Once you arrive at the courtroom (department), there is usually a list of the cases that are on the calendar for that day. Look at the list and check to see your number. The list may contain first names only or the adoption case number.

Once you determine what number you are on the list, make sure you check in with the clerk and/or the bailiff. Tell them your number on the list and that you are here for a stepparent adoption.

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If you check in early, sometimes they will take you out of order if the other people on the list have not checked in.

Follow courtroom rules

Rules are usually posted outside the courtroom. Here are some common ones:

  • Do not bring food or drinks 
  • Turn off or silence your cell phone 
  • Do not wear a hat or sunglasses on your head 

During the hearing

You will wait for instructions from the clerk or the judge. The judge (or your attorney, if you have hired one) will lead you through the hearing.

After confirming certain information and reviewing steps you took to prepare for the adoption, the judge will ask each of you to review and sign the Agreement of Adoption (including the child if 12 years of age or older).

The judge will also ask you to either review the proposed Adoption Order or will explain what signing the Order means. The Judge will then sign the Order and allow you to take photographs.

After the order is signed

The Judge’s Clerk will stamp the copies of all the documents and provide you with an endorsed (stamped) copy of the same.

Make sure you ask the clerk for two certified copies of the Adoption Order. This is very important since the new birth certificate may take several months to receive. If your child needs an updated social security card, passport, driver’s license, etc., you can produce the certified order and the previous certified birth certificate. The clerk may charge a small fee for each certification.

The Clerk will complete the remainder of the VS-44 and will forward to the Office of Vital Records. The new birth certificate will come directly to the address that you listed on the VS-44.

The filed Adoption Order (form ADOPT-215) signed by the judge means the adoption is complete. 

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