Adoption decrees are court-issued documents finalizing adoptions. They are signed by the judge after the adoption proceedings are completed. An adoption decree formally indicates that the adoptive parent(s) are responsible for the adopted child and are legally considered to be their parent(s) and guardian(s).
A Decree of Adoption may also legally terminate any rights that the birth parents still had. In addition, the decree may legally establish the adopted child’s new name, if applicable.
A signed adoption decree will be used to create a new adoption birth certificate for the adopted child. The names of the child’s birth parents will be replaced with the adoptive parents’ names, and if the child’s name were changed, it would be updated as well.
How to get a copy of an adoption decree
Almost all U.S. states have closed adoption records. So, the records are not publicly available once the adoption is complete. You can petition a judge for access, but only if you have a legitimate legal or medical need to do so. To file a petition, you will need to contact the court clerk for the county where the adoption took place.