What You Need to Know About the 10 Steps to the California Adoption Process

Adoption represents the establishment of a legal parent-child relationship, where the parent(s) are not biologically related to the child. Here’s everything you need to know about the 10 steps to the adoption process in California.

Once a child is adopted, their adoptive parents acquire all of the legal rights and responsibilities associated with parenthood. Adoption makes this relationship permanent, and all aspects of the parent-child relationship resemble that of birth parents and their children in the eyes of the law. Adoptive parents can be stepparents, grandparents, loved ones, or have no blood relation or prior relationship with the child. There are 10 steps prospective adoptive parents will need to follow in order to complete the California adoption process.

Related: Adoption Laws in California: The Basics

Different Types of Adoption

There are different types of adoption depending on whether or not the adoptive parents have a previous relationship with the child. The 10 steps of the legal adoption process that follow will vary based on the type of adoption taking place.

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Adoption

This form of adoption is most common and is a less complicated process to complete because one of the child’s birth parents is involved in it.

In order for this type of adoption to occur:

  • The adoptive parent will either be a spouse or domestic partner of the child’s biological parent, and
  • The couple planning to adopt the child is legally married or are registered domestic partners.

Independent Agency/International Adoption

These three types of adoption require the court to terminate the rights of both of the child’s birth parents. The adoptive parents will receive all rights and responsibilities required of the new parent-child relationship at the end of this adoption process.

Three Subtypes of Independent Adoptions

  • Independent: Neither an adoption agency nor the California Department of Social Services is involved in the adoption case, and if both the biological and adoptive parents are in agreement, the biological parents’ rights do not need to end.
  • Agency: A licensed adoption agency or the California Department of Social Services have a role in the adoption process.
  • International: The child being adopted was born in a different country.

The 10 Steps to File an Adoption per California Law

1. Begin the process by gathering information about the adoption process. The prospective adoptive parents can consult the How to Adopt a Child in California (Form ADOPT-050-INFO).

2. Fill out the necessary forms:

3. Fill out these forms if the adoptive child is Native American:

4. Get the forms reviewed by the court’s self-help center or its family law facilitator

5. File forms with the court clerk.

  • The court clerk will go over how the adoption process will go in your country. There may be a filing fee, but a fee waiver may be available.

6. Talk with the child about adoption and receive their required consent (if age 12 or older)\

  • This step only applies to stepparent/domestic relationship adoptions.

7. Serve the papers to the other birth parent and receive their required consent.

  • This step only applies to stepparent/domestic relationship adoptions.

8. Have an interview and investigation carried out by an investigator.

  • Investigations are typically conducted by a court investigator, licensed family therapist, or licensed social worker, who will provide the people involved with a copy.

9. Get the court date upon receiving the investigator’s report.

10. Go to court for the adoption hearing.

  • Bring all relevant forms.
  • The child being adopted must also be present.

How long does it take to adopt a baby in California?

It will typically be a long process to adopt an infant in California due to the popularity of welcoming a child at the beginning of their life. It will take an average of two years for families to reach a match. The private domestic infant adoption process is an option prospective adoptive families can take. This is a process that matches families up with expecting mothers. Adoptive parents will need to verify their eligibility to adopt, and then expectant mothers have the authority to select who will adopt their child. This process truly depends on how long it takes the expectant mother to make her decision.

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If you have any more questions about the 10 steps to the adoption process in California, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Family Law Attorneys today!