Adoption can be a lengthy and difficult process, and each state has its own laws
governing it. California Family Code provides the guidelines for adoption
proceedings, and determines who is eligible to adopt, how adoptions occur,
and the involvement of certified adoption agencies. These laws will greatly
affect your ability to adopt a new member of your family. Learn more about
the process of adopting a child in California, and what you will need
to know to adopt.
Who Is Eligible to Adopt?
In California, adoptive parents can be as young as 18 and may be single,
so long as they can demonstrate they are able to provide a safe home and
comfortable finances to care for a child. It is preferred that the parent
will be at least 10 years older than the child, and married couples are
given preference over single individuals. You are ineligible to adopt
if you have a criminal background, have evidence of past abuse or violence,
are not approved by a social worker during a home study, or cannot provide
evidence of financial stability.
Adoption may also occur between step-parents and step-children, or domestic
partners and their partner’s children. The couple must be legally
married or registered as
domestic partners to adopt the other’s children. This is the most common type of adoption
in California, and is often the simplest, since only one parent is adopting.
The Adoption Process for an Independent Adoption
When a couple has arranged the adoption with an expectant mother, which
is called an independent adoption, the process is simpler. Most frequently,
married couples adopt, but those in domestic partnerships or single parents
also may adopt. You do not need to provide proof of a safe home, so long
as you can demonstrate financial stability. If the adoption is between
states, you may need to go through a home study, but typically you are
selected by the birth mother and won’t have to show the suitability
of your home.
After the child has been born, the birth mother will sign the Adoption
Placement Agreement, and the agreement will become permanent after 30
days. The agreement can be canceled within 30 days of signing if the mother
decided to keep her child. She can also waive the 30-day waiting period
if she chooses, and the adoption will begin immediately.
The Adoption Process through a State-Certified Agency
Many adoptive parents use a state-certified adoption agency to adopt a
child. In this method, the adoptive parent or parents will file a petition
to adopt a child with the agency. The agency will then investigate the
parents to ensure their ability to adopt. This includes a home study,
fingerprinting, proof of marriage if married, providing letters of reference,
a complete health and social history review, and providing proof that
the child will be provided with a safe and loving home.
The birth parents are required to sign a relinquishment in California adoptions.
After they have signed, the child will be placed with the adoptive family.
For the first six months, the agency will supervise the placements and
then write the court to support the finalization of the adoption. Until
this is done, the adoption is not considered complete.
Adoption in California can be expensive. In addition to the financial impact
of preparing to care for a new child, adoptions can cost about $35,000
in fees. If you are considering adoption, carefully consider your financial
abilities and if adoption is a reasonable option for your situation. Economic
factors are important in an adoption, and if your financial status is
not as strong as necessary, your adoption petition may not be considered.
Because adoption is a complicated legal process, you may also wish to seek
help from a family law attorney who is experienced in adoption cases.
They can be a valuable resource for information and advice, and can help
you prepare your petition, prove the necessary factors, and show that
you are a suitable, loving parent for an adopted child. Your lawyer will
help you understand all the legal ins and outs of adoption, and help you
navigate the process.
If you need help adopting a child, the Westlake Village
family law attorney at
Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff can help. I understand how eager you are for the newest addition to your
family, and I can help you go through the adoption process, whether you
need help with an independent adoption or are adopting through an agency.
I have 30 years of family law experience to draw from to help you succeed.
Contact Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff today to discuss your needs with a