The California Adoption Process

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 free consultation.

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