There are many steps involved with adoption, and hiring an attorney can help. They can assist with choosing the correct type of adoption and will make sure that all the legal guidelines are followed.
Adoption is an incredibly rewarding and important undertaking. From a personal and family standpoint – the adoption process covers an entire spectrum of emotion.
One very important aspect of adoption, is the LEGAL process. This can be intimidating to anyone who hasn’t adopted before and that’s why hiring a skilled adoption attorney is so important.
There are different types of adoptions that fit into all different types of family dynamics. The first step is to determine which kind of adoption is best for your situation.
In California, there is an ADOPT-050-INFO form for a complete breakdown of the steps.
Stepparent/domestic partner adoption:
To make sure you choose the right adoption type, answer these questions first:
- Were you, as the parent trying to adopt (the stepparent), in a marriage or domestic partnership with the birth parent at the time the child was born? (Includes domestic partnerships or unions in another state that are legally the same as a marriage).
- Are you (stepparent) and the birth parent still married or domestic partners?
If you answered “yes” to the questions, the kind of adoption case you have is a stepparent adoption to confirm parentage. This means you will NOT need the social worker to do an investigation or report. And you will NOT need to go to court for a court hearing. Follow steps 1-5 below and you will be done.
If you answered “no” to either question, you have a stepparent/domestic partner adoption case. You will need an investigation by a social worker and will have to go to court.
The agency you are using for the adoption will most likely take care of these steps and guide you through the process. But read through the steps below to get a general idea of the process.
It’s important to note that a new law allows that, when the existing parents and the adoptive parents all agree, the rights of the existing parents do not have to end. The ever changing laws is another reason why it’s so important to have an attorney to make sure you can do what’s best in your situation
Once you determine which type of adoption is the right one for your family, there are different steps to follow:
- Fill out your forms, Adoption Request (Form ADOPT-200); Adoption Agreement (Form ADOPT-210); Adoption Order (Form ADOPT-215
- Have your forms reviewed by a family law facilitator or self-help center
- Make at least 2 copies of your ADOPT-200 form and any corresponding forms or attachments
- File your forms with the court clerk. There will be a filing fee but if you can’t afford the fee you can ask for a fee waiver
- Consent approval (if applicable). In California if the child is over the age of 12 they must agree to the adoption before it can be finalized
- Serve your papers (the ADOPT-200 form) on the adoptive parents. The papers must be served by someone else, it can’t be done by you.
- Get the birth parent’s consent. The other birth parent has to agree (consent) to the adoption.If she or he does not agree to the adoption, you may still be able to adopt if:
- The other birth parent has abandoned the child for over a year and not paid any child support or seen or talked to the child.
- You properly serve the other birth parent with the Adoption Request. The other birth parent will have to show up on the court date given on the request and object to the adoption.
- The judge decides that going ahead with the adoption is in the best interest of the child
- Interview and investigation. The investigator will write a report to be filed with the court. This is usually performed by a court investigator, a licensed social worker, or a licensed family therapist
- Court date. Once the court gets the investigator’s report, the court clerk will set up a court date for your adoption hearing
- Go to the hearing with all of your required forms and paperwork
Independent, agency, or international adoption:
- Independent adoption is when no adoption agency or the Department of Social Services is part of the adoption case. In these cases, if the existing and adopting parents agree, the parental rights of the existing parents do not have to be terminated (end).
- Agency adoption is when the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is part of the adoption case.
- International adoption is when the child to be adopted was born in another country. The adoption process can be complicated. Have an experienced attorney support you the entire way.
The act of adopting is a legal one and should be monitored by a licensed attorney to make sure that all legal bases are covered.
Our firm helps with infant adoption, domestic adoption, stepparent adoption, relative adoption, agency adoption and private adoption. Contact our firm today to explore the best adoption options for you!