If you are looking to adopt in California, we’d love to help you explore the world of adoption.  From how the adoption process works to the roles that California adoption agencies perform, we want to help you understand how to select an agency. Before you begin, the factors to consider include the type of adoption you want to pursue, as well as the cost, location, and services you want to be included in your fees. In order to understand what agencies might work for you, it’s helpful to understand what California adoption agencies do for their clients.

How Do California Adoption Agencies Work?

Adoption agencies help prospective parents meet all the legal requirements for adoption and complete a number of specific tasks.  Because adoption agencies vary in the services they provide, you’ll want to start by attending an introductory meeting or exploring their website to get your questions answered.

In the beginning, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest agency because you’ll spend less money, but the cheapest agency may not offer the same services. They may not be able to do your home study or post-placement services. This means you will end up paying an additional home study fee on top of your agency fees. Before you realize it, you may be paying more by using two different adoption professionals.

Always be sure to get a full breakdown of the services offered so you know what you are paying for at the beginning. When it comes to choosing an adoption agency, bring a list of questions to your first meeting so you can make the best decision for your adoption. If the adoption agency doesn’t provide a home study for the type of adoption you want, be sure to factor that cost into your overall fees.

Your agency will also make sure that you meet your eligibility requirements and will help assist you in completing all the paperwork for your adoption. They coordinate the referral of children for international adoptions and the placement of children in your home for domestic adoptions. They make sure that your paperwork meets all the state standards and can answer the detailed questions you might have about the adoption process.

But don’t undervalue the emotional and mental support that adoption agencies provide. The adoption process is often a roller coaster of emotions and can be mentally taxing for hopeful parents. Your agency can provide the support you need to stay calm and to endure the highs and lows that can accompany any adoption journey.

There are many California adoption agencies. Here are some things to keep in mind while you choose one and while you go through the adoption process.

 Types of Adoption

Not all California adoption agencies provide services for all types of adoptions, so it’s helpful to narrow down your options when choosing an agency. The three main types are international adoption, domestic adoption, and foster adoption.

Domestic adoption is also known as private infant adoption. It involves adopting a baby in the US who is typically under a year old and is often a newborn. If you are interested in adopting a baby, then domestic adoption might be the right choice for you. It involves becoming matched with an expectant birth mother who is choosing adoption for her baby. Sometimes an agency will help you find an expectant mother who has chosen adoption. Another great way to connect with a birth parent is to create a profile on Adoption.com. After the baby is born, the birth parents will relinquish their parental rights and the baby is placed in the care of the adoptive parents who will then proceed with the finalization of their adoption.

International adoption involves adopting a child from overseas, who is residing in an orphanage or foster care. The process for adopting overseas involves going through a home study, preparing a dossier, and traveling to your child’s birth country in some cases. Before choosing from the many California adoption agencies who do international adoptions, it’s important to know that your agency must be licensed for the country you wish to adopt from. This is because the Universal Accreditation Act requires that agencies meet federal accreditation requirements for adoption.

It’s also important for you to meet your state’s requirements and the requirements for the country you are adopting from. Countries have their own set of rules that may include specific requirements concerning an adoptive parent’s age, marital status, income, or health. California adoption agencies who specialize in international adoption can guide you on which country might be right for your family and can help you understand the required paperwork from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Foster adoption is the process of adopting a child out of foster care. In order to begin the steps toward adoption, you will need to become licensed for foster parenting. To start, you should contact your local public adoption agency or California Department of Social Services. You may also use a private agency. Because the goal of foster care is reunification with biological parents, there is some risk involved in foster parenting. Only after parental rights are terminated can a child become available for adoption. If you are fostering a child who becomes available for adoption, you may be able to adopt this child. There are also waiting children who are available in California for adoption. These children have already had their parental rights terminated and are now ready for their adoptive families.

Often, children in foster care are older, may have trauma or special needs, and may be part of a sibling group. Because the children in foster care may have experienced trauma or neglect, your adoption agency can be an important source of help for understanding how to parent children with trauma. Many agencies can provide support and guidance when it comes to the issues adopted children face throughout their lives.

 Requirements for Adoptive Parents in California

Every state has their own unique regulations for adoption that must be met before a family can adopt. In order to adopt from California, parents must be at least 10 years older than the child they are adopting. You can be single or married to adopt, but all parents will need to go through a background fingerprint check for felony convictions for child abuse, neglect, spousal abuse, rape, sexual assault, or homicide. If an adult in your home has been convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug or alcohol-related offense in the past five years, you will not be able to adopt at this time.

In addition, foster parents must meet other regulations. Foster care licensing requires a home visit and additional training for foster care. Once you become licensed for foster care, your caseworker will be able to place children in your home. Your caseworker will also help you meet all the requirements for foster adoption. Your adoption cannot be finalized until the post-placement requirements have been met, which include waiting at least six months and four visits from your social worker.

There are many California adoption agencies. Here are some things to keep in mind while you choose one and while you go through the adoption process.

Home Studies in California

California adoption agencies also provide home studies for adoptive parents who are beginning the adoption process. A home study is a detailed written report about your family, history, employment, health, finances, and home. A caseworker will guide your family through the process of interviews and paperwork, a home visit, medical history, referrals, and collecting family information. If your adoption agency does not provide a home study for your particular kind of adoption, you may need to use a licensed caseworker to complete your home study.

Adopting Out of State

If you are adopting a child from a different state, your adoption agency will help you to meet all the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, which helps to govern adoptions that involve moving children across state lines. Your adoption agency will make sure you meet the ICPC requirements for adoption before a child is placed in your home.

 Parental Rights

As a hopeful adoptive parent, it’s important to understand how parental rights affect your adoption. Parental rights must be terminated in order for a child to be placed in your home. If you’re pursuing a domestic infant adoption, this happens after a baby is born and is called consenting to an adoption. Should a birth mother change her mind, California laws specify that a birth mother has 10 days to revoke her consent if it’s an agency adoption. If it’s an independent adoption, she has 30 days to change her mind.

Every effort will be made by your adoption agency to identify the birth father of the child so he can sign consent forms and terminate his parental rights. If he fails to respond to the adoption notice, his parental rights will be terminated in court.

Fees for California Adoption Agencies

Fees for California adoption agencies vary widely depending on the types of services you receive and the adoption program you pursue. Domestic adoption typically ranges from $20,000-$40,000 and usually includes your home study and post-placement visits, as well as the support of a caseworker and assistance walking through the adoption journey. It does not include attorney fees for finalizing an adoption, medical exams, court expenses, or fingerprinting.

According to California law, you may provide birth parent expenses as long as it includes expenses related to the pregnancy or living expenses of the mother and child. This includes medical expenses related to the pregnancy, housing, utilities, food, and transportation. Always check with your adoption agency before helping with birth parent expenses so that you can be sure you are following California adoption laws.

The cost of foster adoption is very affordable. There may be a fee of no more than $500 that is paid to your public adoption agency or the California Department of Social Services prior to submitting a report to the court. You will also pay for fingerprinting, medical exams, court filing, and an adoption attorney. Some adoption expenses may qualify for the non-recurring adoption expense program, which reimburses families up to $400 for adoption-related expenses. For more information about the adoption assistance program, contact your CDSS Regional Office.

International adoptions have more variables to them that may affect the overall cost. Your home study may be a separate fee, which ranges from $2,000-$4,000. You will also have your agency’s fee which ranges from $7,500-$30,000, your country fees, and travel expenses. Many countries require you to travel to your child’s birth country and some may even require a short residency. Before you begin the process, you will want to check what expenses are involved in the process of international adoption. Additionally, you will want to re-adopt your child once you bring them home, even if your child’s adoption was finalized in their home country. A licensed adoption agency will have all the information you need to plan for international adoption expenses.

 California Adoption Agencies

There are many adoption agencies to choose from in California. In order to narrow down your list, you may want to consider looking at our adoption agencies listed on our directory.  It’s also helpful to find out which agencies do the type of adoption you are pursuing. In order to find out more information, contact the adoption agency directly.

Adoption agencies included on Adoption.com:

-         AdoptHelp

-         Heart to Heart Adoptions

-         The Family Network, Inc.

Other California adoption agencies include:

Adoption Connection

Heartsent Adoptions, Inc.

Family Connections Christian Adoptions

Central California Adoption Services – Infant of Prague

Nightlight Christian Adoptions

Bay Area Adoption Services

Adopt International

Family Builders By Adoption

Adoption Service of Kern County

California Adoption Services

Families For Children

Lifetime Adoption

International Christian Adopt

Kinship Center

Adoption Center of San Diego

If you’re interested in finding out more about one of these adoption agencies, please contact them directly.

As you pursue your dream of adoption, your adoption agency will play a major role in your journey. They will help you understand the step-by-step process of adoption and will provide emotional support along the way. When things don’t go right, your adoption agency will give you encouragement and provide a listening ear. When the wait becomes long, your agency will do the best they can to help you endure it. Your agency can provide invaluable support to your family’s journey.


Visit Adoption.com’s photolisting page for children who are ready and waiting to find their forever families. For adoptive parents, please visit our Parent Profiles page where you can create an incredible adoption profile and connect directly with potential birth parents.