Steps in the Adoption Process

“How long does it take to go through the adoption process” is the single most asked question our office gets regarding adoptions. The answer is “it varies”

Depends upon:

• How long it takes for the sending state and/or country to finalize their part of the process;
• How long it takes to obtain the consents from the birth parent(s);
• How long it takes to serve the birth parent if they do not sign or are not available to sign a consent;
• How long it takes (in some cases) to terminate the parent’s rights;
• How long the child has been with you

Power of Attorney – In private agency and private placement adoptions the birth parents sign a power of attorney granting legal authority to either the agency or the adoptive parents. In cases of newborns, this permits the adoptive parents to leave the hospital with the child. Can be signed immediately after the child’s birth.
Filing with the Court – Paperwork is then filed with the court immediately (or in the case of newborns 48 hours after the baby is born).
Missouri law has a two-part process – transfer of custody and final hearing.

Transfer of custody – takes place after the petition has been filed and either shortly after the child’s birth or after the expiration of 30 days when parents had to be served by the Sheriff.
Can be waived where the adoptive parent has had lawful and actual custody for a period of six (6) months or longer which includes:

• Step-parent adoptions (custody via the marriage contract)
• Guardianship (custody via a court order)
• Third-party custody (custody via court order)
• Foster parent adoptions
• Exceedingly rare cases where a parent has placed knowing the end goal is adoption

Final hearing – Hearing where parents’ rights are finally terminated, adoption is granted, and the child’s name is changed. In cases where the Transfer of Custody can be waived, the Court goes straight to the final adoption hearing.