Adoption is much more than a legal process —it is a life-changing experience that helps hopeful parents build their own families and allows birth families to make loving choices for their children. Adoption laws do play an important role in every adoption experience. Here is everything you need to know about California adoption laws and requirements.

Hopeful parents considering adoption may wonder if they meet California’s adoption requirements. The Golden State does not require that individuals be wealthy or hold a prestigious job, but it does ask for a few qualifications for adoption to ensure that they will be able to provide a child with a safe and loving home.

Requirements to Adopt in California

Hopeful parents want to make sure their adoption is completed safely and legally. Adoption laws in California regulate nearly every aspect of the process, including who can adopt, what expenses families can pay, and how the adoption is finalized. In California, prospective parents must be at least 10 years older than the child they wish to adopt, with exceptions for stepparent or relative adoptions. All adoptive parents must complete a home study, including criminal background (fingerprint) checks, before they will be approved to adopt in California.

Related: How to Adopt a Child in California

During the adoption home study, hopeful parents will be required to:

  • Submit fingerprints,
  • Complete a physical examination,
  • Attend adoption training classes,
  • Complete individual interviews with a social worker, and
  • Complete an in-home visit and investigation with a social worker.

A home study might not be approved for a few reasons. One reason the home study might not be approved is if any adult living in the home has ever been convicted of a felony for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against a child (including child pornography), or a crime involving violence, such as rape, sexual assault or homicide. Additionally, the home study will not be approved if an adult living in the home has been convicted of certain felonies. Some of these bans may be lifted if the offense is more than five or ten years old; other bans are permanent.

Before an adoption can be finalized in California, hopeful parents must complete the post-placement supervision process with a licensed California adoption agency (for agency adoptions) or the delegated public agency (for independent adoption). This process lasts for at least six months and includes a specified number of interviews with a social worker, one of which must take place in the home with the child present.

Related: Private Adoption in California: Is It Right For Me?

Laws to Place a Baby Up for Adoption in California

People who are pregnant and considering adoption likely have questions about how adoption will work on their end. Adoption can be very confusing, but all parents planning on putting their children up for adoption have rights they should be aware of.

The following people are required to give their consent to an adoption in California:

  • The child’s living parents if they are married, or if the father is named on the birth certificate,
  • The consent of a father who is not married to the mother, or not named on the birth certificate, is not required as long as he has been given notice of the adoption, or the court has ruled that he does not need to be given notice,
  • The child’s custodial parent, if the other parent has failed to communicate with and support the child for one year, or has been convicted of a serious felony,
  • The adoptive parent’s spouse, if that parent is married, or
  • The child being adopted, if the child is age 12 or older.

In California, each man who might be the baby’s biological father must be given notice of the adoption plan. Although women are highly encouraged to provide this information so that the adoption is legally secure, a mother cannot be legally forced to name the child’s father if they are afraid for their safety.

The period of time in which parents can change their minds about putting their children up for adoption varies depending on the type of adoption chosen. With agency adoption, consent can be revoked within 10 days or before the Acknowledgment is issued by the Department, whichever is sooner. With independent adoption, consent can be withdrawn within 30 days of the execution. In either case, parents may choose to sign a Waiver of the Right to Revoke, which makes their consent or relinquishment irrevocable at the close of the next business day.

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If you have any more questions about California adoption laws and requirements, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Family Law Attorneys today!