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Adoptions

Adoption in law is defined as the process through which a legal relationship between a child and parent is established, when the adoptive parents are not the child’s birth parents. Adoption confers the adoptive parents with the same privileges as if they were the child’s birth parents. The new relationship between the child and the adoptive parents is permanent. The parent adopting the child can be a step parent, a partner of a birth parent, a relative or someone who is not a blood relation to the child being adopted.

Types of Adoption

Stepparent Adoption:

This is a situation where a step parent adopts a child.

  • This is the most popular type of adoption.
  • The couple must be married or legally recognized as domestic partners.
  • This is simpler than other types of adoption since one of the child’s biological parents remains a parent to the child.

Independent Adoption

This type of adoption does not engage the Department of Social Services or an Adoption Agency. If the biological and adoptive parents agree, the parental rights of the biological parents do not have to be terminated.

Agency Adoption

This is a situation where the Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is part of the adoption process.

International Adoption

This is a type of adoption when the adoptive child is born in a different country.

What are the Regulations and Requirements for Adopting a Child in California?

A prospective parent in California is required by the law to be more than ten years older than the child on adoption. However, if the adoptive parent is a step parent or close relative to the child, an exception may be made. A home study is necessary as a basic overview of the prospective parent as well as a criminal background check.

What Expenses for an Adoption are Paid by Birth Parents?

During the adoption process, there is a requirement in every State for the regulation of expenses by the adoptive parents. In California attorney fees, living expenses, fees for medical purposes and counseling fees can be paid to the biological parents by the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents should be furnished by the biological parents with any receipts of monies paid and should make requests for payment in writing. Prospective parents are required to remit all documents showing evidence of monies paid to the court during the filing of the accounting report.

Birth parents are prohibited by the court from accepting any excess payments of reasonable maternity costs, costs for medical and living expenses concerning the adoption. It is illegal for parents to acquire any benefits that are financial yet they have no intention to agree to an adoption or to complete it.

How and When do Biological Parents Agree to an Adoption?

Agency Placement

There may be consent to an adoption by birth parents any time after the birth of a child. Two witnesses must sign the form for adoption consent, and it should be acknowledged by an official from the agency.

Direct Placement

The biological mother should consent after being discharged from hospital. Consent should take place in the presence of an Adoption Service Provider or agent who has talked to the parents advising them on their rights.

If the child being adopted is of an Indian heritage, a waiting period of 10 days is imposed before there is consent to the adoption by the biological parents. Consent must be given in writing before a judge. The judge should certify the terms and consequences of the consent and fully explain to the parent in a way that they will understand.

Who Should Consent to an Adoption?

The consent is given by:

  • Parents of the child if they are alive.
  • The parent who is in charge of the child when the other parent has failed to communicate and provide for the upkeep of the child; or support them for a year or has failed to give a response to the adoption notice.
  • The partner of the parent who is adopting, if the parent adopting is married.
  • If the child is old enough, he or she must agree to the adoption this is if the child is 12 years or older.

The law does not require the alleged father to consent to the adoption, unless he became the alleged father before relinquishment, before the mother’s parental rights have been terminated or before the revocation of the consent.

The biological parent consent is not necessary in the case where there is judicial deprivation of custody and control of the child, and there is the voluntary surrender of the right to custody and control of the child, the child has been relinquished for adoption, or they deserted the child without having provided identification.

When is the Consent of the Biological Parents’ Irrevocable? 

If the consent of the biological parent is revoked, is it automatic that their child will be returned to them?

  • Consent may be withdrawn in a period of 30 days if the child is directly placed.
  • The consent is final in an adoption agency adoption, and it can be withdrawn only if there is no finalization of payment or if the adopting parent also consents within a period of 30 days.
  • If the child is Indian the parent is allowed to withdraw the consent for whatever reason before the adoption is finalized.
  • If it is found that the consent was obtained under duress or fraudulently, the parental consent may be retracted for about two years after the adoption is finalized.

What is the Home Study Process?

Before adopting it is necessary to complete a pre-placement home study and after adopting you are required to undertake a post-placement evaluation.  A prospective parent’s evaluation of their capability in the provision of a stable and nurturing home for the child is what is referred to as a home study.

What Does a Home Study Process Entail?

In a home study, each person who has filed a petition for an adoption is required to give fingerprints and get criminal records to determine if they have been other crimes that they have been adjudged of, other than minor traffic violations. A home study also includes a physical study of the adoptive home. If you file an adoption petition, the law demands that you be investigated.  The home study is conducted by the DSS or an authorized adoption agency.  As a prospective adoptive parent, the law requires that you must be more than 10 years older than the child to be adopted. However, there may be an exemption if you are a stepparent or close relative and if married you should be adopting the child with your spouse.

On What Grounds is a Home Study Not be Assented?

In San Diego, a home study is not assented when the couple adopting the child or any other adult in the adoptive household has been adjudged of:

  • A criminal offense that occurred within the past five years for physical assault and/or battery, a drug or alcohol-related offense.
  • Child maltreatment, abuse against a spouse, child pornography or for violent crimes, including sexual assault, rape, and homicide.

Understanding a Post-Placement Study and the Requirements?

A post-placement evaluation is conducted for a period of at least six months from when the child is placed with the new family until the final directive on adoption is given. If you have succeeded in adopting another child in a period of five years or serve in the US military or with the Red Cross and the supervisory period would extend the conclusion of the adoption, the post-placement supervisory duration may be reduced.

The evaluation after the child is placed with the new family must consist of an interview conducted by the agency in the new home with the adopted child and parents. Thereafter, three more interviews are conducted with the new parents.

As required during this time the agency gathers all information collected during the supervisory period from the family, schools, health and rehabilitation services to update medical and psychological history to reflect up to date information about the child.

What Should Stepparents or Relatives Expect When Adopting in San Diego?

If the considered adoptive parent of the child is a stepparent or relative of the child, then the assessment requires the following;

  • The checking of Criminal records.
  • Examination that the child can be supported financially by the relative.
  • Investigation as to whether the child has been maltreated by the relative and that they are not likely to be abused in future.
  • To determine if the relative can address the cultural and racial matters that could have an impact on the child.
  • An interview is conducted with the child together with the relative and with every member of the household.

A home study for a step parent usually isn’t mandatory unless the court has ordered that it be conducted.  When a child is being adopted by a step parent, a licensed and authorized professional or a probation officer files a proposition with the juvenile court.

What Should you Expect in a Home Study in an Interstate Adoption?

If you are adopting interstate legal provisions on adopting from another state apply.  For you as a California resident when you adopting across states, a county welfare agency should conduct a home study in a period of 60 days and report the findings to the state that is requesting.

How do you Apply for Adoption?

Applications for adoption are made under the Children and Family Services Act. You can find documents required for an adoption in the Civil Procedure Rules which are court rules made by judges.  You can make an application to the Supreme Court or the Family Division of the Supreme Court. However, you should not attempt an adoption without the help of an experienced attorney because of the complexities involved.

What is the New Simplified Adoption Process that Protects Parentage?

There is a new statute that protects the non-birth parent’s rights, for couples who were married or registered as domestic partners at a time when one of them gave birth to the child. It is only applicable when one of the spouses gives birth to the child.  This process cannot be used if you used surrogacy to have a child.

How Does it Work?

This law avails a simplified process that allows you to file papers in court for a stepparent adoption and to have the adoption granted without a home investigation, background check and court hearing.  However, a judge can still order you to go through the entire process if they find reason to.

All courts have a family law counselor or self-help center that can help you review the forms and explain the court process. However, this can best be done by our attorney since they cannot afford you the much needed legal advice. Though this process is considerably simpler and more affordable, it is quite important that it is done right with the help of an experienced attorney.

Help With Your Legal Adoption Needs

An adoption changes the life of the child as well as that of the family in which they are adopted into. The adoption process should be undertaken through the prescribed legal procedures to ensure that all parties are satisfied. Adoptions can be quite complex, and consequently, it is advisable that you seek the services of a San Diego Family Law attorney. We are experienced in handling all types of adoptions as well as other family law matters. The adoption process can be quite emotional and stressful; however, it can be made easier with the legal help of our experienced adoption attorney.

Adoptions are critical in society. When you want to adopt or give out your child for adoption, it is imperative that you get guidance throughout the entire process from the professional San Diego Family Law Attorney. Our lawyers are knowledgeable about the legal procedures for various types of adoptions in San Diego and will take time to offer legal advice and answer any questions that you may have. We care about you and are prepared to offer all the support you need to the conclusion of the process. Call us anytime at 619-610-7425, and we will be happy to book you for consultation.

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