Child adoption is more than a legal process. It is a transformative experience that allows hopeful parents to build families and gives expectant mothers a chance to make loving choices. And the number one thing to ensure is that your adoption is completely safe and legal. The Central California family law attorneys ensure that families are doing the right thing in line with the current regulations.

Each U.S. state has adoption laws and requirements. These laws decide who is eligible to adopt, who is eligible to be adopted, who can place a baby for adoption, what the expenses are, and how this process is finalized.

What Is Adoption?

Adoption is a process that establishes a lifelong relationship between adoptive parents and the adoptee. For birth parents, this is a permanent choice.

Adoption can take various forms. For instance, a person can adopt a stepchild or relative or an orphan in an outside country. Similarly, a person can adopt a foster care child where the child’s birth parents voluntarily or involuntarily relinquished their parental rights in favor of the child’s well-being. Lastly, a person or couple can adopt a baby in the U.S., also called ‘domestic infant adoption.’

What Are the Different Types of Adoption in California?

California adoption laws list different types of adoption, including independent adoption, stepparent/domestic partner adoption, agency or facilitator adoption, and international adoption.

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Adoption

This is perhaps the easiest and most common type of adoption that requires the child’s parents’ spouse or domestic partner to adopt the child. In California, the couple must be legally married or be registered as domestic partners. It is an easier way of adopting because one of the child’s birth parents remains his or her parent.

Agency and Facilitator Adoption

Agency adoptions are the second most common type of adoptions we’ve seen in California. This type of adoption can be done through the California Department of Social Services, or a licensed adoption agency; private or public.

If you choose this route, the birth parents will give an adoption consent at any time after the child’s birth. They will do this by giving up their parental rights through a court order or filing a relinquishment. However, a new law now allows the adoptive parents to keep their parental rights if they agree with the adoptive parents. Consult a Fresno adoption lawyer near you to understand what this means and if it’s best for your situation.

For foster care adoption, the prospective adoptive parents are expected to meet the same requirements as indicated in the private adoption of an infant. However, it is quite cheaper than private adoption, and you are expected to pay a reimbursable amount of not more than $500.

Independent Adoption

This is also a common option in California and usually involves adopting a healthy infant whose birth parents continue holding parental rights until the court finalizes the adoption. In this process, adoption agencies and the Department of Social Services are not part of the adoption process.

International/Intercountry Adoption

Families in California can also choose international or intercountry adoption to get to adopt a child from another country. While international laws and requirements have to be followed, you’ll still be required to consider the various California adoption laws that affect you either during or after the adoption.

For such children, they must qualify for certain immigration visas and must also be classified as orphans by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. For this type of adoption, you need an agency licensed to process adoption for the country the child is situated.

Will I Be Required to Readopt My Child After an International Adoption?

The state of California requires you to readopt a child who was legally adopted internationally. The requirement is one home visit post-placement and a foreign adoption review done by the state court.

The adoptive parents need to file these documents to complete this process:

  • Home investigation report
  • Adoption petition
  • Accounting reports
  • Certified translations of the foreign adoption papers
  • Final adoption order

What About a Special Needs Adoption?

Special needs children form a large part of children waiting to be adopted in California. These are children of different ages, different backgrounds, and have different needs.

Children with special needs are defined as:

  • Older children
  • Having siblings
  • Children who’ve spent time in international orphanages
  • Children with mental, physical, emotional, and medical needs that require attention
  • Children of specific racial and ethnic backgrounds

A child that’s classified as special needs qualifies to receive monthly adoption subsidies through the Adoption Assistance Program until he or she turns 18.

What Is the Cost of Adoption?

As mentioned above, an agency adoption will cost no more than $500. You will also be required to pay for medical examination, court filing, and related costs, and fingerprinting, which could be about $200 on average.

Families that qualify for the Adoption Assistance Program can receive reimbursement for adoption-related costs they incurred. However, this is limited to $400 per child.

Licensed private adoption agencies are not regulated by the state, and you should therefore ask about their fee schedule.

Committed Legal Professionals Helping Build Families

The prospect of adoption can be overwhelming. You can use one of the many pathways to build a family through adoption. If you are a hopeful adoptive family or are expectant and are considering adoption as an option, get legal assistance to initiate the process.

While the adoption process may seem complex and the laws confusing, seeking help should be your first step to becoming an adoptive family in California. Get in touch with the skilled Fresno adoption lawyers at Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian if you want to adopt through an independent legal process or an agency.