Orange County Adoption Lawyer

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Orange County Adoption Attorney

Adoption is anything but a simple process. There’s a great deal of paperwork, safeguards, checkpoints, and other steps that must be accomplished before the adoption can be finalized. The process is typically not a quick one, either. Each adoption is unique. Sometimes, all parties are agreeable, and sometimes they aren’t. Adoptions can carry a wild set of complex emotions as well. Wherever you are in the process, Cianci Law can help you find your way through it.

How We Can Help

Whether you are wanting to adopt yourself, biological parents who just want what’s right for their child, or a parent who doesn’t want to give up your child, we have experience that can help you navigate the adoption process. From the outside, it seems like the adoption should be fairly straightforward. We’ve often found that it is anything but that. There’s a lot that must be done to finalize an adoption, and any mistake in the complex paperwork and other steps involved can cause substantial delays. Fortunately, our expertise can help you properly fill out forms and guide you through the adoption process. We can keep your adoption from running into any delays and help it go more smoothly.

How to Adopt in Orange County

While each adoption is unique, there are some general steps that are followed in an Orange County or Southern Orange County adoption. These steps are required in almost every case, except perhaps the occasional circumstance where the birth parents are unable to provide consent or are disqualified from needing to do so. The necessary steps for adoption in California are:

  • Adoption forms must be completed and filed with the court.
  • Papers are served to the birth parents, notifying them of the possible adoption.
  • The birth parents (with rare exceptions) are required to consent to the adoption.
  • A home study is conducted.
  • The court will finalize the adoption with the child in attendance.

Who Can Adopt

Broadly speaking, California law says that an adult can adopt any minor child. However, the specifics of each case determine the type of adoption that can occur. Each form of adoption has its own set of criteria for allowing it to proceed. One overall restriction on adoption is that the adopting adult is required to be at least ten years older than the child, except in the cases where the adopting adult is the child’s:

  • Stepparent
  • Aunt or Uncle
  • Sibling
  • First Cousin

If you have any questions about your eligibility to adopt, contact us today to review your case.

Types of Adoption

There are a few different types of adoption, each adding its own complications to the adoption process. We can help you understand what category your adoption may fall into, but some of the categories of adoption include:

  • Stepparent Adoption – This is when a spouse or domestic partner of one of the child’s legal parents adopts the child. For this type of adoption to be possible, there must be a legal marriage or domestic partner registration with the child’s legal parent.
  • Agency Adoption – These adoptions involve either a licensed adoption agency or The California Department of Social Services. In these cases, the adoptive parents will be named the legal parents of the child, and the child’s birth parents will have their legal parental rights terminated.
  • International Adoption – These are adoptions where a child was born in another country and is brought to California by the adoptive parents. It’s important to note that, even though the adoption may have been finalized in the country where the child is coming from, that does not transmute to California. You will still need to follow the California adoption process. An adoption request must be filed with the court by either the child’s 16th birthday or within 60 days of the child entering the country, whichever is sooner. Once the California adoption process is completed, the child’s birth parents will have their parental rights legally terminated, and the adoptive parents will become legal parents of the child in California.
  • Adoption to Confirm Parentage – This can be a slightly simplified adoption process for use in cases like assisted reproduction or gestational surrogacy. This protects the legal parental rights of parents who did not give birth to the child.
  • Private Placement Adoption – In these adoptions, the birth mother or parents will choose who can adopt their child.
  • Close Relative & Grandparent Adoption – These adoptions are used when a child is adopted by their grandparent or close relative. If the relative is an aunt, uncle, sibling, or first cousin, there is no requirement for a ten-year age gap between the child and adoptive adult.
  • Adult Adoption – Adoption of someone aged 18 or above.
  • Second Parent Adoption- This is when a second parent is permitted to adopt their partner’s child without the first parents losing any parental rights. It allows a same sex parent to adopt their partner’s biological child and legally establish a parent-child relationship.

Consent for Adoption

One of the more confusing elements of adoption can be the process of getting the consent needed from all necessary parties. It may not always be possible to receive consent from all parties involved. The law provides a plan for these situations, but it is not always clear how it applies to each unique adoption. One of the things we can help with in the adoption process is understanding who is required to consent and how to get that consent. In general, though, the following parties are expected to give their permission in any adoption case:

  • The child’s birth (or natural) parents, so long as they are married, or the father’s name is included on the birth certificate
  • The child’s custodial parent alone if the other parent has not responded to any notice of adoption proceedings or failed to pay child support and communicate with the child for at least one year
  • The child, so long as they are over the age of 12

If the adoptive parent is married and not legally separated, then their spouse must consent to the adoption. They are not, by default, also named as an adoptive parent of the child. They must notify the court through a written statement if they would also like to be named.

There are also a few other rules of note regarding consent for the adoption, including:

  • Each man who might be the father of the child must be given a notice of the adoption.
  • If the biological father doesn’t admit to their paternity, or cannot be found, then their consent may not be required. However, every attempt to find and contact the parent must be recorded. A judge will determine if a reasonable effort has been made.
  • A death certificate will be needed to prove the death of any parent and waive the need for their consent.
  • In an independent adoption, a birth mother cannot legally give consent to the adoption until she is discharged from the hospital.
  • Documentation from a doctor may be requested if the child was conceived via an anonymous donor of either sperm or an egg.

Home Study

A home study must be conducted before your adoption can be finalized. A home study must be conducted by a licensed private adoption agency or the California Department of Social Services. There are situations in which using a private agency may be beneficial, and other situations in which using the Department may be the best choice. A social worker will be responsible for overseeing the study. Some of the general components of a home study are:

  • A Home Visit – During a home visit, the social worker checks to see if your home appears to be safe and suitable for the child to be brought into.
  • Adoption Education – Adoption education is usually training or classes that can help you better understand what it means to take in a child who is adopted. It can cover things like parenting, approaching relevant medical concerns, or raising a child from a different ethnicity or culture.
  • Interviews – A social worker will interview everyone who is a part of the household, including any other children you may have. The purpose of this is to make sure that your parenting and background are a good fit for the child.
  • Paperwork – There can be a substantial amount of paperwork that you will need to fill out or provide copies of to the social worker. They will likely want to see everything from financial records to a written account of your background. It’s also likely that they will do a background check on you and your spouse or partner if you have one.
  • Review Process – The social worker will create a report of their findings for those who will need to approve it.

Keeping Your Child

While we often help adoptions go through, we understand that there are times when some parents are having their parental rights taken from them against their will. This can be a painful experience, and it is one that we can help defend against. If possible, we can work with you to help you keep your right to raise your child.

Birth Parent Representation During the Adoption Process

In California, you are not required to have an attorney as a birth parent going through the adoption process. However, California must offer the birth mother separate legal counsel to protect her best interests. The adoptive parents typically cover these legal fees, who provide at least $500.00 for expenses. Sometimes the parents will offer more financial support in favor of the birth mother and her representation. A situation in which you might need an attorney is if you decide that you want to go back on the adoption process.

Contact Cianci Law

The adoption process can feel a bit daunting at times. While the procedures and hurdles to adoption are meant to protect the children involved, they can sometimes be an unnecessary obstacle. Any slip-up in the process can lead to lengthy delays that aren’t ideal for anyone, especially the child involved. We want to help you finalize your adoption as quickly and smoothly as possible. If you would like to take advantage of our skills, experience, and expertise, then contact us today.

Practice Areas





Family Law

Family Law



Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent Adoption

Estate Planning



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