Adoption decree definition

A Decree of Adoption is the document issued by a legal court to finalize an adoption process. The adoption is completed when the judge signs this document, thus creating a parent-child relationship between the adopted child and the adoptive parents.

In simple terms, this decree states that the adoptee is the legal child of the new parents, and it places full responsibility for the child’s well-being and care on the adoptive parents. Furthermore, if the biological parent terminated their parental rights with voluntary consent, then the Decree of Adoption is the official step that ends these rights.

An adoption decree document shows the name of the child selected by the new parents. This document also orders a new birth certificate to be prepared and issued for the child.

How to get a copy of an adoption decree?

In most states, all adoption records are sealed from public inspection once the adoption process ends. Judges do have the power to re-open the records, but only for individuals who are legally entitled or have good reasons to get a copy.

To access the sealed records, you must file an application with the court clerk in the county where the adoption took place.

Adoption decree sample

To better understand what a Decree of Adoption looks like, it’s recommended to look at a sample version. To download an example of a certified statement of a final decree of adoption, [click here]( 527.pdf).

Other adoption laws and terms

In addition to adoption decrees, there are various other important adoption laws** and terms that must be taken into account when carrying out an adoption. Some of these include:

  • Open Adoption Agreement: defines the contract terms between the parties in an open adoption.
  • Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA): afederal law that promotes the safety and adoption of children that are in foster care.
  • “Consent to adoption”: can refer to either of three different legal documents that can be used to permit adoption, either from the birth parents, an adoption agency, or the child being adopted (if twelve or older).
  • Legal risk: used to describe a situation in which a child that may be adopted is relocated with the adoptive parents before the birth parents’ rights have been formally terminated.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (or CASA): trained community volunteers who speak for a child’s best interests in court.

Read more: How to get your birth certificate if you were adopted?