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Adoption in California

Are you a California resident looking to adopt or place your child for adoption? Are you unsure of where to begin? We’ve got you covered. The following information will help you navigate the process in California and answer some frequently asked questions about adoption, as well as provide some resources to help guide you along the way.

If you don’t find the information you’re looking for after reading, click here to navigate through the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

What you need to know about placing your child for Adoption in California

Making the decision to place your child for adoption can be one of the toughest, but selfless choices you make, but being well-informed about the process may help ease some of your stress. The following information will provide some important factors to think about when considering placing your child for adoption in California.

Who Must Consent to an Adoption in California and how does it work?

In order to place a child for adoption in California, consent is required from the following:
The Birth Parents
The husband/wife of the Adopting Parent, if he/she is married
The parent having custody of the child if the other parent:
Fails to communicate with and support the child
Fails to respond to notice of adoption
The child being adopted if they are at least 12 years old

For direct placements, a Birth Mother may give her consent after the child is born and she has been discharged from the hospital. Consent must be given in the presence of a delegated adoption agent who has advised the Birth Mother of her rights.
For an agency adoption, the Birth Parents may give consent any time after the child is born. An adoption consent form must be signed in front of at least two witnesses and acknowledged by an official of the agency.
In the case of a Native Indian child, both of the following must occur for consent to be valid:
The consent is given in writing before a judge no sooner than 10 days after the child’s birth
The judge certifies that the terms of the consent were explained in English and understood by the Birth Parents, or that they were interpreted into the language that the Birth Parent clearly understands

When is consent not necessary for adoption in California?

The consent of a Presumed Father, a man who is assumed to be the child’s Birth Father until proven otherwise, is not required for the adoption unless he became a Presumed Father before:
The mother’s relinquishment of the child
Consent becomes irrevocable
The mother’s parental rights have been terminated

The consent of a Birth Parent is not necessary if he/she has:
Voluntarily given up the right to the custody of the child
Had their parental rights and custody revoked
Deserted the child without leaving identification of the themselves or the child
Relinquished the child for adoption to a licensed child‑placing agency in another area

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in California?

In a direct placement, the consenting parents have 30 days to submit a signed revocation and request the return of the child once the initial consent to adoption has been given.

In an agency adoption, consent is irrevocable once the adoption is finalized and may only be rescinded by mutual consent. If the placement is not yet finalized; then the consenting parent has 30 days to rescind.

After the adoption of an Indian child is finalized, the child’s parent may withdraw consent to the adoption if it is found that the consent was obtained through fraud or duress. He/She may petition the court for revocation up to two years after the adoption was finalized.

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in California?

In California, a man is considered a child’s Presumed Father, granting him the right to be involved in the adoption decision making process if:

  • He and the Birth Mom are or were married, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ended
  • Before the birth of the child, he and the Birth Mom attempted to marry, and the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated
  • He is obligated, by voluntary agreement or court order, to support the child
  • He gave his consent to be listed as the Birth Father on the child’s birth certificate
  • He has acknowledged his paternity in writing

In California, a Birth Father’s parental rights will be terminated if:

  • He cannot be located for six months
  • He has been convicted of a felony
  • He has failed to visit or contact the child for six months

What you need to know about adopting a child in California

Adoption is no easy decision, but it is a life-changing one, so it is important that you understand the process before you begin your journey. Continue reading for more information about the adoption process in California or scroll to the end of the article for a list of adoption agencies to help get you started.

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a child in California?

In order to adopt a child in California, the Prospective Adoptive Parents must be at least 10 years older than the child. For a step-parent or relative adoption; however, exceptions to this rule may be made with court approval.

How much does it cost to adopt a child in California?

California adoption expenses may vary depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. International adoption will be different from a domestic adoption, and adoption from a private agency will be different from a government agency. Regardless of the type of adoption you decide to pursue, here are a few expenses you may need to consider when becoming an Adoptive Parent:

  • Medical costs of the Birth Mother and child
  • Travel expenses
  • Counseling services
  • Rent
  • Legal representation
  • Fees from an adoption agency

All payments toward the Birth Mother must be approved by a California court and should not go beyond the necessary medical and living expenses accumulated during the adoption process.

How do you become a foster parent in California?

To become a foster parent in California, you first must become licensed to foster a child. Similar to the home study process for adopting, a social worker will make an evaluation of your ability to provide a safe environment for a child in the foster care system. Getting your license will involve interviews with you and your family and an assessment of the safety of your home.

Can you finalize an international adoption in California?

In order to adopt a child internationally, the child must be from a country that is a part of the Hague Convention, which is an international agreement that establishes standard adoption practices for inter-country adoptions.

In California, and all other states in the U.S., Prospective Adoptive Parents must meet the State adoption laws in addition to the following Federal adoption requirements:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • If married, your spouse must also be a U.S. Citizen or have legal status and together you must file for adoption
  • Pass criminal background checks, the home study process and fingerprinting
  • If unmarried, be at least 25 years old

Who can legally facilitate an adoption in California?

There are many agencies, attorneys, and facilitators offering adoption services in California, so it is important to understand the differences between them.

Agencies are regulated businesses and attorneys are experts in adoption law, both licensed and trained in adoption processes.

Adoption Facilitators are individuals who are usually unlicensed and unregulated, that match Prospective Adoptive Parents with expectant Birth Mothers. In order for the adoption process to be legal when using a facilitator, the facilitator must:

  • Provide, in writing, all available information about the child and Birth Parents
  • Explain, verbally, all contracts to both the Prospective Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents
  • Provide formal, written information about their services
  • Report all fees and expenses in court

A facilitator will help advertise and match his or her client with an expectant Birth Mom, but once they have made a match, the facilitator will then refer their clients to a licensed adoption professional to complete the process.Home Study and Post Placement Requirements in California

What is a home study and what happens during the process?

Before adopting a child, a Prospective Adoptive Parent and his or her family must undergo a home study to assess their ability to care for a child and provide a safe, stable home environment. This process will also help determine what kind of adoption is appropriate for the family and what child will fit best within their lifestyle.

In California, the home study process will include and require the following:

  • Attend adoption training classes
  • Submit finger prints and obtain criminal records
  • Provide proof of income and employment
  • Complete individual interviews with a social worker
  • Complete an in-home visit with all members of the household present facilitated a social worker
  • Provide any necessary documents such as medical records, marriage or divorce certificates, and birth certificates

While this process is to ensure that adoption is in the best interest of both the child and family, it is also a time for the family to ask questions, make any necessary adjustments, and prepare for a new member to the family.

Who oversees a home study in California and who is included in it?

In a California adoption, the Department of Social Services will provide a social worker to complete the home study process and everyone living in the household will be included.

Why would my home study not be approved in California?

As a California resident, the following may be grounds for disapproval of your home study and eligibility to adopt:

If any adult, whether or not he or she is the Adopting Parents, living in the home has been convicted of a felony for:

  • crimes against a child including child pornography
  • child abuse or neglect
  • spousal abuse
  • any crime involving violence, such as homicide, rape, or sexual assault

Any felony that occurred within the last five years for:

  • physical assault
  • a drug- or alcohol-related offense
  • battery

What are the requirements for adopting a child from another state?

If you are a resident of California, but are presented with the opportunity to adopt a child who was born in another state, you must comply with the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which is a contract among the states to ensure safe adoptions across state lines.
Is a home study different for stepparent or relative adoptions in California?

In California, the court may waive the home study requirement for an adoption by the child’s stepparent.

For a relative caregiver who has maintained both a significant and ongoing relationship with the child, the home study requirement may be shortened and only require the following:

  • A criminal background check
  • An interview with the caregiver and child
  • A determination that the caregiver:
  • Has not neglected or abused the child while the child has been in his or her care
  • Will not neglect or abuse the child in the future
  • Is financially stable and can sufficiently support the child
  • Can address any racial or cultural issues that may affect the child

What are the requirements for a Foster to Adopt placement in California?

“Foster to Adopt” is when a foster parent or family decides to adopt a foster child that is currently in their care.

The goal of foster care is to eventually reunite the child with his or her family, but in the case that reunification is not an option, the foster parents may be eligible to adopt the child. In California, a foster parent may only adopt if the child has been in his or her custody for at least six consecutive months.

What is a post placement requirement and what happens during the process?

A post placement assessment is an evaluation of the child’s integration into the adoptive family’s home that takes place before the adoption can be finalized. It is meant to ensure that the child and family were a good fit for adoption.

In California, a post placement assessment will last six months. During this time, a social worker assigned to the case will make up to three in-home visits, conduct interviews with the child and family, and provide any necessary resources or services that may help make the adoption transition easier.

California Adoption Agencies and Professionals

Going through the adoption process can feel overwhelming at times, but the adoption professionals in California are eager to help you throughout your journey. Whether you are looking to adopt a child or deciding to place your child for adoption, the following agencies are ready to offer you support, advice, and answers to your questions as you pursue the adoption process:

Adoption Network Law Center
1-800-367-2367

Family Connections Christian Adoptions
844-772-3678

Visit California

Is your adoption journey bringing you to the golden state of California? Here’s a list of some of exciting spots to visit while you await the process:

Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld in San Diego

Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim/Orange County

Walk of Fame and Universal Studios in Hollywood

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