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THE TERM ‘ADOPTION’ REFERS TO A LEGAL PROCEDURE THAT INVOLVES THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A LAWFUL PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP IN THE SCENARIO WHEN THE PARTY ADOPTING THE CHILD IS NOT THEIR BIRTH/BIOLOGICAL PARENT. THE FINALIZATION OF ADOPTION IMPLIES THAT THE ADOPTING PARENT(S) HAVE THE LEGAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES TYPICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH A PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP.

All states in the US have certain laws that decide on an individual or couple’s eligibility to adopt a child. As far as the laws and regulations in California are concerned, parents looking to adopt need to be at least ten years older in age to the child (there are exceptions for relative and step-parent adoptions). Further, adoptive parents need to participate in a home investigation which includes a thorough criminal background check, before they can adopt a child in California.

The different types of adoptions in California include the following:

  • Agency AdoptionsAgency adoptions are the most common adoptions seen in California. This kind of adoption may be done through a private or public adoption agency or even through a California Department of Social Services office. In such adoptions, the biological parents of the child have given up their official parental rights through a court order or by filing a relinquishment. The adoption agency then gets the legal responsibility for child care. A detailed investigation of the adopting parents is done by the agency before a final approval for the adoption is given.As far as the agency adoption process is concerned, your chosen private or public agency will likely guide you through the steps of adoption
  • Independent AdoptionsThis is the second common adoption choice in California. An independent adoption usually involves the adoption of a healthy infant whose biological parents continue to retain complete legal responsibility till the court finalizes the adoption. It is the court, and not an agency, that grants the adoption. The biological parents take the decision regarding who will adopt the child. But they need to be provided with all the information related to their rights, options and responsibilities before taking the decision.
Some of the important steps included in such an adoption are:

1. Petition to Adopt

2. Investigation and Recommendations given to the Court

  • Intercountry AdoptionsIn the third type of adoption in California, prospective parents may adopt from a foreign country. It is important to know that children adopted via this method need to qualify for certain immigration visas mandated by the federal government. Further, these children must be classified as orphans by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. In California, adoptive parents typically “re-adopt” the child post international adoption. The procedure generally involves a minimum of one home-visit (after placement) in addition to a foreign adoption review by the state court. Adoptive parents would also need to submit some necessary documents in order to complete the re-adoption process.

These include:

1. A Petition for adoption

2. Attested translations of all official documents related to the foreign adoption

3. The home investigation report

4. Accounting reports

5. Final Order for adoption

The general procedure for all adoptions in California is as follows (in brief):

1. Filling out of court forms (Adoption Request, Adoption Order, Adoption Expenses) and other special and/or local forms

2. Reviewing of forms filled

3. Making copies of forms

4. Submitting forms to the court clerk

5. Setting up an investigation and interview (with investigator)

6. Request for a court date

7. Be present for the adoption court hearing

Note: Procedures will vary depending on the adoption route selected.

Shulman Family Law Group

Maya Shulman, Esq.

SFLG