California Adoption Guide

The ultimate overview of adoption in California

Kylee Hooper March 10, 2016

Welcome, prospective adoptive parents! This guide was written to provide you with a single place to find information about adoption in California. It will walk you through everything from laws that will impact your adoption to reviews of adoption service providers in California.

We’ve divided this guide into five parts: first, general information about adopting in California, then sections dedicated to domestic infant adoption (starting in Slide 6) foster adoption (Slide 19),  international adoption (Slide 28), and stepparent adoption (Slide 32). And don’t miss our slide filled with links to helpful adoption resources (Slide 35).

Are you interested growing your family through domestic infant adoption? Click here to connect with an adoption professional who can answer your questions.

Please note:
1. Please note:

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Did You Know?
2. Did You Know?

California has both the highest and lowest points in the continental United States. They are located within 100 miles of one another. Mount Whitney measures 14,495 feet, and Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.

Source

Adoption in California at a Glance 
3. Adoption in California at a Glance 

Kids in foster care available for adoption in 2012: 19,011
Foster adoptions completed in 2012:  5,920    
International adoptions completed in 2012: 555  
Source and Source

Can I Adopt in California?
4. Can I Adopt in California?

Adoption requirements in the state of California are as follows:
  
Marital Status: Can be single or married     
Finances:  You should be able to financially provide for a child   
Housing: Can rent or own an apartment/home. It will need to be safe and approved through a home study.
Work: You can work, you may need to provide adequate childcare.      
Personality: A loving and understanding outlook is suggested
    
DISQUALIFYING CRIMES: When you complete a home study, which will consist of a review of your criminal, medical, employment, emotional, marital, and life history, and your home environment as required by law.
SOURCE:  California Department of Social Service.

Developing a Support System
5. Developing a Support System

It’s essential to have a good network of family, friends, and neighbors to support you through your adoption process.

It’s also important to connect with other adoptive parents. You can begin making these connections in our forums. You may also want to consider joining a support group for adoptive parents.

Domestic Infant Adoption in California
6. Domestic Infant Adoption in California

Before you get started, click here to learn more about the overall process of adopting an infant in the United States. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back to get the details about adoption in California. 

Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help
7. Domestic Infant Adoption: Get Professional Help

You may adopt through an agency, or complete an independent adoption directly from a birth parent (usually with the assistance of an attorney). 

Some people pursuing a private adoption find it beneficial to work with a professional adoption facilitator, an individual or organization that matches birth parents with adoptive parents in exchange for a fee.

An Adoption Facilitator’s only legitimate service is to arrange contact between the birth parent and the prospective adoptive parent(s). Following that contact, all further key actions to proceed with an adoption are performed by the birth parent and the prospective adoptive parent(s) and/or their attorney in an Independent adoption, or a licensed, public or private adoption agency in an Agency adoption. Adoption Facilitators must inform potential clients that they are not a licensed adoption agency. Source.

You can browse and read reviews about adoption service providers in California here.  

For more information about picking an adoption agency, learn about the Top Fifteen Things to Look for In An Adoption Agency.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study
9. Domestic Infant Adoption: Complete a Home Study

Regardless of whether you complete your adoption, you will need to complete an adoption home study.

Your home study social worker will help educate you about adoption and ensure that you (and your partner, if applicable) meet the requirements outlined on slide four.

Click here to learn more about the Home Study process.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word   
10. Domestic Infant Adoption: Spread the Word  

Only licensed adoption agencies may advertise adoption placement services. Attorneys, birth
parents, and adoptive parents have a more limited right to publicize their interest in adoption .

Unlicensed matching services, called “Adoption Facilitators,” must inform potential clients that they are not licensed as an adoption agency. Source.

One of the most important things you can do while waiting for an adoption match is to let everyone know about your hope to adopt. Many adoption connections are made through word-of-mouth referrals.

 Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles
11. Domestic Infant Adoption: Parent Profiles

If advertising is allowed in your state, creating a profile on Adoption.com Parent Profiles allows you to easily share your story with those considering placing their child for adoption. Features like videos and photos, posts, Pinterest-like favorites, and recommendations and endorsements make it easy to create a profile as unique as you are, increasing the likelihood that you will stand out and connect with that right person.

Rich communication options like video chat and instant messaging make connecting easy. A mobile-responsive design means that you will never be out of reach.
What’s more, Adoption.com receives over 650,000 monthly visits, which means your profile will receive unparalleled exposure. You can even view and monitor your progress through a detailed statistics page.

Ready to get started? Click here.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment
12. Domestic Infant Adoption: Relinquishment

In order to make adoption possible, the parental rights must be relinquished. There is specific paperwork to fill out in order to make a child legally free for adoption. If the birth parents do not relinquish their rights, the child will not be available for adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights   
13. Domestic Infant Adoption: Birth Father Rights  

California does not have a putative father registry. Instead, California utilizes the Uniformed Parentage Act which establishes two categories of birth father: presumed and alleged.

A man is a defined as a presumed father if he has married the birth mother, has accepted the child into his home and acknowledged paternity; both parents have executed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity at the hospital, or he has done all that he could to accept the emotional and financial responsibilities or of parenthood during pregnancy. A presumed father must give his consent before an adoption may proceed.

An alleged father does not need to give his consent for an adoption to take place, but he is required to be notified if possible when his child is placed for adoption. He has the option to file a lawsuit if he objects to the adoption, but he will lose the lawsuit unless he can prove that the child would be benefitted more if he (the father) retains his rights and the child is not adopted.

Domestic Infant Adoption - Laws about Birth Parent Expenses
14. Domestic Infant Adoption - Laws about Birth Parent Expenses

Hopeful adoptive parents and/or an adoption agency may provide legal and living expenses for an expectant mother. There are, however, requirements governing such support.

The birth mother may lawfully accept payments for reasonable maternity-related expenses, such as food, clothing, medical care, transportation, housing, and utilities. These payments are considered gifts and do not need to be repaid if the birth mother chooses not to place the child for adoption.

Domestic Infant Adoption - Post-Adoption Contact Agreements   
15. Domestic Infant Adoption - Post-Adoption Contact Agreements  

Post-adoption contact agreements establish how much and what kind of communication the birth family will have with the adoptive family, particularly the adopted child. They are legally enforceable only if everything was done to resolve matters personally first.

Domestic Infant Adoption - Finalization 	  
16. Domestic Infant Adoption - Finalization  

You can petition the court to finalize your adoption after a minimum of six months of post-placement supervision and the required number of visits (four for agency, one for independent) by the appropriate public or private agency. Out-of-state residents can finalize in California.

Domestic Infant Adoption – Adopting in California from Out-of-State
17. Domestic Infant Adoption – Adopting in California from Out-of-State

With private (usually domestic infant) adoptions, it is always possible to adopt a child within California, even if you live in a different state.

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC here.

Foster Adoption in California    
18. Foster Adoption in California    

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of adopting children through foster care. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about foster adoption in California.

Foster Adoption - Children Available for Foster Adoption in California
19. Foster Adoption - Children Available for Foster Adoption in California

There are more than 55,000 children in foster care in California. Many of these children are ready to be adopted.   

California Photolisting

Foster Adoption - Get Professional Help   
20. Foster Adoption - Get Professional Help  

You can complete a foster adoption either through a private agency that is licensed to provide foster care services or directly through the Department of Social Services. Their website will take you here for photolistings and more information.     

To find adoption agencies in California and to read reviews, check out Adoption.com’s Reviews page for California.

You will still need to complete a home study as part of this process.

 Becoming Part of the Foster Care System 	  
21. Becoming Part of the Foster Care System  

You must become a licensed or certified foster care provider in order to receive foster children into your home. You might receive children who are considered "legal risk" placements into your home.

These are children who are not legally free for adoption because their parents’ parental rights have not yet been terminated by the juvenile court. Many of these children are returned to their birth parents or other birth relatives; others are legally freed when the court terminates parental rights, at which point you may petition to adopt them.

During the foster care placement period, a social worker will visit your home monthly or more often to determine that your home continues to meet the foster care standards and that you are providing adequate care for the child.

Finalization 	  
22. Finalization  

You can petition to finalize your adoption after a minimum of four visits and six months of post-placement supervision by the appropriate public or private agency. Some of the previous foster care visits and time period may be credited towards those requirements. Out-of-state residents can finalize in California.

 Post Adoption Contact Agreements   
23. Post Adoption Contact Agreements  

A post-adoption contact agreement is a voluntary agreement that can be entered into by adoptive and birth families. The agreement outlines details about how much contact the birth and adoptive families will have after the adoption is finalized.

In instances in which the child’s biological parents’ rights have been involuntarily terminated, the well-being of the child needs to be first and foremost in everyone’s minds if a post-adoption contact agreement is created. Caseworkers and therapists should be consulted in making decisions about contact after adoption.

These agreements are legally enforceable.

Adoption Assistance
24. Adoption Assistance

California may provide an adoption subsidy (known as “AAP”) to families who adopt qualifying children from foster care, and occasionally for private domestic adoptions.

This assistance is to help offset the cost of raising a child with special needs. In order to receive adoption assistance, you must fill out an AAP 1 form. Your agency will assist you with completing the appropriate application forms if your child potentially qualifies for AAP.

 Foster Adoption – A Note About the ICPC
25. Foster Adoption – A Note About the ICPC

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) was adopted in the 1960s to provide for oversight and protection of children placed for foster care or adoption between states.

If you are adopting a child from another state, you will need to receive permission from the ICPC office in the state where the child is from. Your agency or attorney will send the office copies of your home study and some other paperwork. They will need to approve your packet before you can bring your child home.

Read more about the ICPC here.

International Adoption in California
26. International Adoption in California

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of international adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about international adoption in California.

International Adoption - Photolisting
27. International Adoption - Photolisting

There are millions of beautiful children across the world who are hoping to find a forever family.

Click here to meet some of them through our Photolisting.

International Adoption - Get Professional Help
28. International Adoption - Get Professional Help

With international adoptions, your only choice is to complete your adoption through an agency. Because of the Universal Accreditation Act, all adoption agencies completing international adoptions are required to be credentialed according to federal standards. Make sure to check with any agency before working with them to ensure they have this accreditation in place!

In selecting an international adoption agency, there are Four Essential Criteria you should probably consider. Click here to browse through reviews of adoption agencies in California.

Prior to adopting a child from another country, you must have an approved international adoption home study from an agency licensed and/or accredited to provide this. You must also apply for approval from the federal immigration authorities before adopting in the foreign country or before
bringing home an international child with the intent to complete the adoption in California.

International Adoption - Post-Adoption Requirements
29. International Adoption - Post-Adoption Requirements

Adoptions finalized in the foreign country will result in automatic U.S. citizenship for your child if certain requirements are met. If those requirements are not met before the child comes home with you, you will be required to adopt or readopt (as applicable) the child in your county of residence.

Your adoption agency and the child’s country of origin will normally require one or more post-placement visits, including home visits, with written reports and pictures sent back to the child’s home country to document the child’s adjustment.

To protect your child’s rights, you should apply for a California birth certificate for your child through the adoption or re-adoption process. The court requires you to produce certified translations of all of your foreign adoption documents for this purpose. You may also choose to apply to the federal immigration authorities for a Certificate of Citizenship to prove that your child has U.S. citizenship.

Be sure to work closely with your internationally licensed agency as you complete this process.

Read more about post-adoption requirements here.

Stepparent Adoption in California
30. Stepparent Adoption in California

Before you get started, click here to familiarize yourself with the overall process of stepparent adoption. Then, because laws and processes vary from state to state, come back here to get the details about stepparent adoption in California.

Stepparent Adoption - Terminating Parental Rights
31. Stepparent Adoption - Terminating Parental Rights

In order for you to adopt the child of your spouse, the corresponding biological parent’s rights will first need to be terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

You will need to consult with an adoption attorney about your desire to adopt. He/she can help you decide if it’s likely that the biological parent would be willing to relinquish rights OR if it would be feasible to pursue involuntary termination of his/her parental rights.

Stepparent Adoption - Petitioning to Adopt
32. Stepparent Adoption - Petitioning to Adopt

Once parental rights have been terminated, you can file a petition to adopt with the courts. You and your spouse will both testify in court regarding the stability of your marital relationship, the bond you’ve developed with your stepchild, and your desire to become the legal parent of your stepchild.

You will generally not be required to complete a background check or home study as part of the stepparent adoption process.

Adoption Resources   
33. Adoption Resources  

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Kylee Hooper

Kylee Hooper is not quite a mother, but she adores babies, and hopes to be able to either foster or adopt someday. When she isn't writing, reading, or editing; she is normally playing her harp or creating an adventure.


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