Qualifications for Adoption in California
Under California Code §8500-9340 and related sections, any unmarried minor or married minor or adult can be adopted, with some exceptions.
To be eligible to adopt a child a California, you must:
- Be an adult and at least 10 years older than the child you are adopting (unless you are stepparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt, or uncle of the child).
- Have the child consent to the adoption if 12 years of age or older.
It should be noted that you do not have to be married or even have a partner to adopt under state law. You also may be able to adopt even if you have been convicted of a felony in the past, depending on the charge. However, many adoption agencies do require or at least prefer to work with married couples and those who have never been charged with a serious crime. If you aren’t sure whether you qualify to adopt, give us a call. Our adoption attorney would be happy to work with you to determine whether you can be eligible despite any unique or unusual circumstances.
Types of Adoptions
Our firm works with clients going through the independent adoption process. Also known as a private or open adoption, this is when an agency or the California Department of Social Services is not involved and both the birth parents and adoptive parents agree to the adoption and its terms. Independent adoptions are more direct then going through an agency but they do require the help of a lawyer to ensure the process goes smoothly and all paperwork is filled out correctly and filed on time. The biological parent(s) may have some limited rights to see the child if there is an “open” adoption or “contact after adoption agreement” following a hearing on the issue of termination of parental rights.
The most common type of adoption in California are stepparent adoptions. In this, the legally married spouse or registered domestic partner of a birth parent adopts their partner’s child. This process can be a simpler process, as one parent retains parental rights.
You may also be considering an adult adoption, which is when the adoptee is over 18 years of age and not related to you. In this case, adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the adult being adopted. Because the legal rights of both the adoptive parents and the adoptee are changed, these proceedings can be complicated and petitions must contain specific language for the court. After the process is completed, the adult adoptee may then legally inherit from the adoptive parents and, in the case of an adult being unable to care for themselves due to physical or mental disabilities, adoptive parents will be legally responsible to make important care decisions.