If you're pursuing an independent adoption, you'll need to file a petition, or complaint, for adoption with the courts. This petition notifies the courts of your desire to finalize your parental rights over the child you've been placed with and, when finalized, will enable you to get your child's birth certificate. Filing the petition is generally done after the birth mother has placed her child with you and has terminated her parental rights. Depending on your state's laws, processing a petition and receiving a court date can take two to six months. After receiving a court date, the official hearing to terminate the birth parents' rights and to finalize the adoption will occur. Sometimes this is a two-step court process with a preliminary hearing in which the judge terminates the birth parents' rights and reviews the home study. The second hearing is to finalize the adoption, considered post-placement at that stage. Most states, however, have a process that involves only one court hearing.
Information on the petition will include your personal information, the birth parents' information, the legal reason for terminating the birth parents' rights, why adoption is in the best interest of the child, a copy of the home study or other proof that you're fit to adopt, and the contact information of the case worker or agency that will conduct post-placement supervision and report back to the court with their results.