My Child’s Adoption is Finalized, What Do I Do Next? Five Steps to Take After Your Child’s Adoption is Finalized

November 16, 2021 | By Elizabeth Vaysman

Though finalization will seem like the end of a very long road, there are aspects that still need to be completed after the finalization to make sure your adoption is complete.

ORDER AN AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE

Once your adoption is complete and you obtain a Final Decree of Adoption, you can apply for an amended birth certificate for the child that has your name(s) as parents and the child’s new legal name after the adoption. Check with your state’s vital records requirements to obtain an amended birth certificate. Information on ordering Pennsylvania birth certificates is here, and the application form is here. PA requires applicants mail in the application form with payment and only accepts checks or money orders as payment.

APPLY FOR A SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER

Though you can apply for a social security number prior to receiving an amended birth certificate, it is recommended to wait for the new birth certificate so that you can apply with the child’s new name. Once you receive your amended birth certificate, you can apply for a social security number for the child at any Social Security Office.  If the child was placed for adoption from birth, it is likely they do not have a social security number. If the adoptee is older, it is likely they have a social security card and you may want to apply for a new number. Here is the application for a social security card. It is recommended when applying to bring original documents for the child, such as the Final Decree of Adoption, amended Birth Certificate, previous social security card (if applicable), and medical information. More information on needed documents is here. If your adopted child is born outside the U.S, here is a list of documents that can be used to prove citizenship.  The Social Security Office will collect originals of the documents and mail them back with the card when issued. Details on social security numbers for children can be found here.

SET EXPECTATIONS FOR POST-ADOPTION CONTACT

Maintaining post-adoption contact based on the biological family’s expectations is very important for the adoptee. Make sure you know what is expected of your family regarding post-adoption contact with the biological family. Learn more about post-adoption contact agreements between birth and adoptive families here.

APPLY FOR THE ADOPTION TAX CREDIT

There is a federal adoption tax credit that adoptive parents are eligible for the year after they finalize their adoption. Some states also have their own adoption tax credits or reimbursements. It is important to maintain a list of your qualified adoption expenses and submit proper tax paperwork to be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit.

Learn more about the federal Adoption Tax Credit here.  The form is available here and instructions are here.

CHECK WITH YOUR EMPLOYER FOR REIMBURSEMENT

It is important to check with your employer and human resources department to see if you qualify for any adoption and/or legal service reimbursement. Many employers have adoption reimbursement benefits that are not highlighted in benefit packages or marketing materials. Make sure to check if your employer has adoption reimbursement, find out the amount, what is required to receive the reimbursement, and how long it takes to receive the reimbursement. This could also be framed as “legal services” reimbursement.  If your employer does not currently offer adoption reimbursement, request if they would consider creating a reimbursement program. You can look at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for an article on adoption reimbursement, and their free toolkit for employers to implement reimbursement programs.


The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Vaysman

Associate

Liz focuses her practice on all aspects of adoption and reproductive law matters in Southeast Pennsylvania and the Greater Philadelphia area. She represents clients in family building needs, consulting them on the...

Read More by Author