Types of Adoption in California

California has a couple different adoption processes for prospective parents, depending on the type of adoption they seek to pursue. In today’s blog, we will discuss the steps for an independent or agency adoption, as well as the crucial steps for a stepparent adoption, including the termination of parental rights. Keep reading to learn more.

Types of Adoption

There are generally 2 categories of adoption in California – agency or independent adoption, and stepparent adoption. Both have similar processes but differ in a few aspects.

Independent or Agency Adoptions

Independent and agency adoptions involve prospective parents who have no existing relationship yet with the child (as opposed to stepparent adoption). The two are slightly distinct, in a way that independent adoption does not involve an adoption agency or the Department of Social Services. Alternatively, agency adoption is when the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is involved in the adoption case.

In general, the adoption process for independent and agency adoptions is:

  1. Get information about the specific adoption process.
  2. Fill out the court forms.
  3. Fill out additional forms if adopting a Native American child.
  4. Have the forms reviewed.
  5. Make multiple copies of all the forms.
  6. File the forms with the court clerk.
  7. Have an interview and home investigation.
  8. Get a court date.
  9. Go to the adoption hearing.

Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent/domestic partner adoption differs from independent and agency adoptions in that they involve a child who is the biological or legal child of the prospective parent’s spouse or partner. This is one of the most common types of adoptions in California, and it is a little simpler than independent adoption, because one of the child’s birth parents remains their parent.

Note that there are 2 branches to stepparent adoption – standard adoption and adoption to confirm parentage. The latter occurs if the parents were partners at the time of the child’s birth and still are, and the stepparent adoption process in such a case is much more simplified, requiring only steps 1-6 below. In any other case, (e.g., the couple was not yet together at the time of the child’s birth), the stepparent adoption process will entail all of the following steps:

  1. Get information about the specific adoption process.
  2. Fill out the court forms.
  3. Have the forms reviewed.
  4. Make multiple copies of all the forms.
  5. File the forms with the court clerk.
  6. Talk with the child about the adoption.
  7. Serve the papers on the other birth parent.
  8. Get the other birth parent’s consent to the adoption.
  9. Have an interview and investigation.
  10. Get a court date.
  11. Go to the adoption hearing.

One of the most crucial steps in a stepparent adoption is the termination of the other birth parent’s parental rights. In many cases, the other birth parent will consent to the adoption and voluntarily terminate their rights. However, in some cases, they may oppose the adoption, in which case the court will end the other birth parent’s rights involuntarily. Note that because this is such a serious move, the court will not do it unless the prospective parent proves that they have tried everything possible to inform the other parent of the adoption and ask them to consent.

Let Cianci Law, PC Help You Navigate the Process

Adoption can be a complicated and lengthy process, whether you seek to pursue an agency adoption or stepparent adoption. Our adoption lawyer at Cianci Law can better help you navigate the process and unite your family together in California.

Give us a call or reach us online to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case.

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