Adoption is a process that provides permanency to a child that can not for various reasons live with their birth parents. The natural parents, also commonly known as birth parents’ rights and obligations toward their child are permanently terminated, and the adoptive parents then assume these rights and obligations. The legal procedure by which a formal legal adoption occurs varies from state to state. This is why consulting an attorney is of high importance because an attorney can assist in determining the particular procedures of the state in which you live.

Before parental rights are fully given to the adoptive parents, the Court determines that biological parents have, legally and with full understanding, voluntarily relinquished their parental rights. Sometimes parental rights may also be involuntarily taken due to termination by the Court. Depending on the circumstances and state laws, these two actions - the severing of biological parents' rights and the bestowing of parental rights on the adoptive parents - may be done at the same time, at finalization.
During the court finalization hearing, the judge reviews pertinent information about the child, the biological parent(s), and the adopting parent(s), such as the home study, adoption counseling and education reports for both birth and adoptive parents, and the agency’s recommendations.

When adoptions are approved, the adoption becomes finalized and an Adoption Decree is issued. The child’s name can now be legally changed, and the Courts issue a new, amended birth certificate which replaces the names of the birth parents with the names of the adoptive parents, and replaces the child’s birth name with his/her new full or surname. Documents surrounding the adoption including the original birth certificate are then sealed.