There are many reasons a person (or couple) decides to adopt. The most common adoptions are the potential parent adopting a family member’s child or a step-parent adopting their spouse’s child. These types of adoption are most similar to an independent adoption (as opposed to an agency adoption, where an agency or California Department of Social Services places a child with adoptive parents, or international adoption, where a child is adopted from another country). Independent adoptions involve the birth parent(s) selecting the prospective parent(s) and places the child(ren) directly with them. A birth parent must have personal knowledge of certain facts about the adoptive parent(s), receive an advisement of rights, responsibilities, options from an Adoption Service Provider, and sign an Independent Adoption Placement Agreement, which gives consent to the adoption and cannot be revoked after 30 days.
The first step after deciding to adopt is to consult with an attorney. Although an attorney may not be required to complete a relative, stepparent or independent adoption, it is preferred to ensure all legal and procedural requirements are met and all parties’ rights are protected as the process is extensive and time-consuming. After consulting with an attorney, an Adoption Request form, providing pertinent information regarding the child, the adoptive parent(s) and the birth parent(s), must be filed. If the child has any Native American heritage, additional forms and information is required. Additionally, you must disclose whether or not you have consent from the birth parent(s). If they consent to the adoption, they relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities, making the adoption process are much easier.
Once the proper forms are filed, the Department of Child and Family Services performs an investigation of the adoptive parent(s). This entails filling out a detailed questionnaire, provide requested documents, and interviews. Upon conclusion of the investigation, the adoptive parents are notified of a hearing date. An adoption hearing, when uncontested, is brief and simple. The Judge reviews the forms and requires the adoptive parents (and child, depending on their age) to sign documents and the adoption, like the new family, is complete.