If you live in the state of California, you may be wondering what laws regarding adoption California has in place. Every state has their own laws that apply to adoptions, whether they be domestic, international, or through foster care. If you are considering adding to your family through adoption, California has some laws and regulations you should familiarize yourself with. These laws concern who is eligible to adopt, how and when birth parents can give their consent to place their child for adoption, and when adoptions can be finalized. Also, if you are considering adoption, California has a number of reputable professionals who can help facilitate your adoption, whether they be lawyers or agencies. In this article, we’ll also take a look at what you should consider when choosing an adoption professional.
California Adoption Laws
Every state has laws regarding who is eligible to adopt. These laws can cover the age of the adoptive parents, their marital status, and whether or not same-sex parents can adopt. In California, hopeful adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the child they are adopting, with exceptions for stepparent or relative adoptions. Same-sex couples and single parents are all eligible to adopt in California. All adoptive parents must complete a home study, including criminal background checks, before they will be approved to adopt in California.
During the adoption home study, you will be required to do the following:
-Submit fingerprints to check for criminal activity.
-Complete a physical examination to prove you are in good health.
-Attend adoption education classes to learn more about the adoption process and adoptive parenting.
-Complete individual interviews with a social worker who will ask you questions about your motivation for adopting, important events in your life, and how you plan to parent.
-Complete an in-home visit and investigation with a social worker who will determine if your home is safe and can accommodate an additional child.
Regarding birth parents in domestic infant adoption, consent can only be given for the child to be placed for adoption once the birth mother has been discharged from the hospital. In the event the birth mother is required to be hospitalized for longer than the child, a letter from her physician will need to be provided that attests to her physical and mental capabilities to make this decision. Once consent has been signed, the birth parents have a 30-day revocation period during which they may decide to withdraw their consent to place the child and choose to parent. Once that revocation period has elapsed, you can move towards finalization of an adoption. After your child is placed in your home, you must complete a minimum of six months of post-placement supervision before your adoption can be finalized. During this time, your social worker will visit with you a minimum of four times to confirm that you and the child are adjusting well and to provide any additional support or services you might need. Once this period is complete, your attorney can file for a date for your finalization hearing. The finalization hearing is an exciting milestone in the adoption process. Many adoptive families invite friends and family members to the hearing or to a gathering afterwards to celebrate the official completion of their adoption. These hearings are typically very brief and, while still a legal proceeding, are more informal and celebratory than other court proceedings.
Choosing an Adoption Professional
- Get referrals from friends or others that have adopted previously. This can be accomplished by asking in your community or by joining an adoption support group online or in person.
- Ask how long the attorney or agency has been involved in this line of work. Professionals who have worked as adoption service providers for only a short time might not be the best choice in terms of experience.
- Ask what the average wait time is for an adoption with this professional. Ask how many families they currently serve and if they limit the number of families they work with in a year.
- Find out if the attorney/agency has a history of disrupted adoptions, and if so, the reasons why. Some adoptions disrupt before birth, some after birth, and some after placement. Ask how many adoptions they oversaw disrupted in the past year, and when in the process they disrupted.
- Find out what services they offer both before and after the adoption for both adoptive families and birth families.
- Find out the true costs of the adoption: ask for a schedule of all fees from beginning to end to determine how much a professional truly costs.
- Ask if the agency places minority or biracial children, and if so, if they require parents to complete any additional education specific to transracial adoption.
- Ask about open versus closed adoption and the attorney’s views and experience with each type of adoption. Studies have shown that open adoption is most beneficial for the adopted child. Some adoption professionals with an “old school” mentality may not be aware of this and may push closed adoptions.
- Ask for a list of phone numbers or email addresses of families who have successfully adopted with this professional in the past. Ask for families who have experienced a disruption as well as families who waited longer than the average amount of time the professional has stated.
- Inquire about the availability and type of counseling for birth families prior to and after placement.
- See what the procedures are in place to establish the health of the child including what medical records are obtained from the birth mother. See if they have any means of providing expectant mothers with assistance in obtaining prenatal health care.
In addition to these questions, make sure any adoption professional you work with has favorable reviews. Check the Internet and the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any formal complaints lodged against them. Search for any media stories of any legal issues or other troubles the lawyer or agency may have been a part of. Ensure that their licensure is current and that there are no pending actions against them by the state regarding their licensure. Remember that these professionals are overseeing a complicated and lengthy legal process. You want to ensure they are experienced, ethical, and that they are responsive not only to your needs, but also the needs of birth parents. While you may be tempted to choose the professional with the lowest fees, ensure that you are choosing not just the best choice economically, but also the overall best choice of a professional. It is imperative that all expectant parents and adoptive parents who work with this professional are treated with equal respect.
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.