California Adoption – What You Need to Know

California Adoption – What You Need to Know

California Adoption - What You Need to Know

When a family wants to legally accept parental rights to a child, they can go through the process of legal adoption. Adoption is more than just a legality, though. It means caring for, loving, and guiding a child as your own. Adoption makes a child legally part of your family, which makes you legally responsible for their care and well-being until they are no longer a minor.

Types of Adoptions

There are different avenues of adoption in California: agency, independent, and intercountry. Each of these is described below.

Agency Adoptions

When a child is placed for adoption by an agency, whether by a public or privately licensed agency or by a CDSS Adoption Regional Office, either the court or a relinquishment filing terminates the parental rights of the child’s biological parents. The agency is then legally responsible for the child’s custody and care and will control the child’s placement thereafter. Potential parents’ applications for placement of adoptive children are overseen and supervised for six months before adoption can occur.

Independent Adoption

In this case, the birth parents choose the potential parents for adoption, and the child is directly placed in the adoptive parents’ home. There are a number of requirements that must be met to facilitate an independent adoption, including filing an Independent Adoption Placement Agreement, among other things. It is a very good idea to consult with an attorney whether you are the biological parent or the adoptive parent involved in an independent adoption.

Intercountry Adoption

When adoptive parents wish to adopt foreign-born children, special considerations are taken. It is advised that parents in these situations consult an experienced California family law attorney to help facilitate these types of adoptions.

Foster Children

Children waiting to be adopted into permanent homes via the Child Welfare System are fronted by a child’s caseworker. The California Kids Connection Program is an internet registry of children awaiting adoption in California.

Adoption of a Stepchild

When a stepparent adopts the child of their spouse, they will permanently have all the legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. This type of adoption requires consent by the non-custodial parent, who will be relinquishing their parental rights. If they do not give consent, they will need to be notified via serving notice or service of process. Cases that do not require consent include:

  • The biological parent died.
  • The biological parent signs a non-involvement waiver.
  • The “other” parent signs a form stating that they are not the biological parent.
  • There is proof that an attempt to find the biological parent was unsuccessful.
  • There is proof that the biological parent is unknown, and an attempt to determine their identity was unsuccessful.

To prepare for a stepparent adoption, there are several forms that must be filled out, including the Adoption Agreement, which will need to be signed by all parties in front of the judge (stepparent, custodial parent, and child if they are over 12 years of age). An Adoption Order will also need to be readied, along with the Court Report of Adoption, Parts I and II, as well. Part III will be filled out by the clerk of the final hearing. It is important to note that no one should sign the agreement or the order until they are in front of the judge.

An experienced family law firm can assist you in determining the right course of action if you would like to request to adopt your stepchild or if your spouse would like to adopt your biological child.

Pre-Placement Home Study

A pre-placement home study in California is a requirement for adoption. It is an assessment of the parents, family, and home that the child will be adopted into. It includes fingerprinting, background checks, and criminal history checks of each person filing an adoption petition, along with any other adults living in the home. A physical investigation of the adoptive home will also take place. The adopting applicant will be denied adoption rights if they or any adult in the home has a felony for any crime involving children or an offense that occurred in the past five years related to:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Physical violence
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol

Benefits of Mediation for Child Custody Decisions


Q: How Much Does Adoption Cost in California?

A: An agency adoption can incur fees of as much as $8,000 or more. Independent or private adoptions can cost anywhere from $15,000 up to $70,000 or more, but this price includes everything from adoption fees to legal services. For a stepparent to legally adopt their stepchild, it may only cost from $350 to $2,000, depending on the situation.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Adopt a Child in California?

A: An agency adoption can take anywhere from six months to one year for the family assessment. Once the family assessment is complete, it could take several more months for the family assessment to be approved and the process of legal adoption to be complete. To adopt a child from foster care can take anywhere from three to 12 months once a family meets all the pre-placement conditions.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Adopt a Stepchild in California?

A: Adoption by a stepparent can be finalized in as few as six months from beginning to end if all the consents are obtained. However, if consent from all involved parties are not included, it may take up to one year to finish the process for a stepparent to adopt a stepchild.

Q: How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt a Child in California?

A: According to California law, an adopting parent must be 18 years of age or older to adopt a child. Anyone can adopt a child as long as they are not adopting their spouse. Furthermore, the adopting parent must be at least 10 years older than the child they are adopting.

Contact Bickford Blado & Botros

If you plan to proceed with an adoption request, you can expedite the process with the help of a reputable family law attorney. Bickford Blado & Botros can assist you in many areas related to your adoption needs, including termination of parental rights and the many facets of child custody. Contact Bickford Blado & Botros for a consultation to see how our legal services can meet your needs.



Feel Free to Contact Our Office with Any Questions


Contact Information