9 Things You Need To Do AFTER You Adopt

After the judge declares your child’s adoption is finalized, you thought the paperwork was done and you could just live life right?!  Well, no.  

If you want to do everything RIGHT after your child’s finalization, here are nine things to consider in the weeks and months after.

When your child’s adoption is finalized, be sure to do these things to make sure your adoption is legal and your child has citizenship (and some fun stuff too)!

Original Birth Certificate

Now, this first one is actually one you do BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

Prospective adoptive parents, you HAVE to get an ORIGINAL birth certificate for your child. Not a copy, an official, original unaltered birth certificate with birth parents full names written on it.

Once you finalize, the US government will issue an amended birth certificate stating your child’s adopted name & list the adoptive parents as the ONLY parents. The amended birth certificate will take the place of the original and in some states is inaccessible for life or until the child reaches adulthood.  

This can cause problems later on if the adoptee then wants to enroll in a native American tribe, get a passport or have a fuller picture of their story pre-adoption. So, do what you can to get an original birth certificate and keep it along with the amended one you are sent after finalization.


Start your childs lifebook if you haven’t already!

As a foster or an adoptive parent, it’s your responsibility to fill in all the gaps and missing pieces of the histories of the children you care for. you can hold their true, full story until they are old enough to carry it. Lifebooks are a great way to honor your foster or adopted child’s life – ALL of it.

Learn to create a lifebook (memory book) for foster and adopted children, while child is foster care or after finalization. Hands on tips and resources.

Consider Your Mortality

Parenthood makes you consider your own mortality in a new way.

Before I adopted, I had no reason for a will, appointing a guardian or life insurance, as I had no real material wealth and no dependents. Now I do.

But, after the finalization, I was sure to get the all in place, because as a single mom, I knew I needed a plan for who would take care of her and financial support in place for my daughter, should the worst happen.

This child is now fully your responsibility and you want them to be taken care of well, even if you can’t be there in the case of your death.  

Also, think about who you’d like to raise your child in case of your death and put that in your will. If you don’t have one, be sure to get or update your will and make sure your life insurance will cover your funeral expenses and some to help the new caretakers of your child.

Attempt to get a new Social Security NUMBER and card for your child. The office is sometimes hesitant to give a new number, but it can come back to haunt you later.

Social Security

Think about the many, many pieces of paper on which your child’s social security # might be on, papers at the county, the adoption agency, past foster parents, birth family, temporary caretakers (if a child is with someone over 6 months, they can be claimed on their taxes).

If you don’t get a new social security number, you may find that your child’s number has been used to claim children on taxes, open credit cards, false applications for loans, credit cards or bank accounts, used as proof of identity with law enforcement, used for medical care, used on utilities such as phone, water, gas, and cable.

When your child reaches adulthood, they might find that they have a poor credit history due to non-payment on those accounts opened fraudulently, or they might even have flags for criminal conduct that has nothing to do with them.

The easiest way to avoid all of that is to get a new number. They are sometimes hesitant to give a new number, be persistent. But, if they refuse to give you a new # you can request a flag be put on their file moving forward and then check to make sure their credit hasn’t already been tampered with by writing a letter to the credit bureaus.

This won’t prevent someone from claiming them on their taxes but might help sort out credit problems that might arise.

Medical Insurance

Add your child to your medical insurance plan.  Or if they are receiving insurance through medical assistance (part of adoption assistance for some kids), update name and contact information.

Professional Updates

Pro tip: When you adopt, update child’s information with the all professional’s the child has worked with, whether or not you plan to work with them again in the future.

That way, if you do need to see them again, the paperwork will all be current.  Also ask them to remove all other contact persons off of the accounts (social workers, birth family, etc) and update all contact information to you alone. 

Establish Citizenship

If you adopted internationally, make sure your child’s adoption is final IN THE US and that they are a US Citizen.  Do the work now to make sure they are – so that they don’t have to deal with it when they want to go on that first international trip and find they can’t get a passport because they aren’t officially US citizens.  This happens all the time folks – MAKE sure.

View USCIS – U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child for more details.

If you adopted internationally, make sure your child’s adoption is final IN THE US and that they are a US Citizen.


Consider sending an announcement of the adoption to your friends and family. Be sure to discuss this with your child and use your best judgement if your child would like this done. Many adoption stories are full of grief and mixed feelings and finalization. Be sensitive to the way you mark this day with and for your child.

If you do create announcement cards, or if you just do a few, be sure to send one off to the White House and Disney World as well, they will send you back an official congrats – which is one extra fun thing for the adoption scrapbook.  

White House Instructions / Disney World Instructions

Luckily, President Obama was in office when I finalized, there is a signed card from President and Michelle Obama in my child’s Lifebook…. You might want to consider who is in office if you want a White House greeting.

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After the court date and adoption finalization, do these nine things to make sure your adoption is legal, your child is a citizen and avoid common pitfalls.

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