California Adoption Laws

If you’re a prospective adoptive parent, the adoption process can be intimidating at first. In order for you to better understand what will happen to your family as you attempt to grow, we’ve compiled a list of adoption laws in California to be familiar with. 

However, please note that this article is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney if you have immediate legal concerns about your adoption, or call 1-800-ADOPTION to learn more about your state’s adoption laws and requirements.

Who can adopt a child in California?

California adoption laws set forth a few stipulations for who can adopt in the Golden State. Adoptive parents must:

  • Be at least 10 years older than the child they adopt, although in a few circumstances exceptions may be made

  • Have no felonies involving the abuse or assault of a child or domestic violence on your criminal record

It’s worth noting that California has no marriage requirement for adoption.

The Consent Process in California Adoptions

Before you can adopt a child, California adoption laws dictate when and how consent must occur. If you’re adopting through an adoption agency, the birth parents can consent to adoption ant any point after the child is born. To do so, they will sign a consent form before two witnesses, and an official from the adoption agency will acknowledge the form.

If you’re adopting a child through a direct placement, meaning you found a pregnant woman to adopt from without the help of a professional, the birth mother must wait to consent until after she’s been discharged from the hospital. When she signs the consent form, this must happen in the presence of an Adoption Service Provider or some other professional who has advised her and the birth father of their parental rights.

If the child you wish to adopt has Indian heritage, there will be a 10-day waiting period before the birth parents can consent to the adoption.

California Adoption Laws Regarding Birth Parent Expenses

Adoption laws in California allow adoptive parents to pay for all maternity-related expenses for birth parents. This may include attorney’s fees, medical fees and expenses, counseling fees, and living expenses such as rent, utilities, maternity clothing and more. However, this doesn’t mean that adoptive parents and birth parents can freely exchange money.

To receive financial assistance from adoptive parents during pregnancy, birth parents must request payments for specific bills in writing and provide the adoptive parents with receipts when any money is exchanged. After the baby is placed, the adoptive parents will have to submit all receipts to the judge in an accounting report before the adoption can be finalized. It’s illegal for anyone to give or receive money or anything valuable for the adoption of a child, so it’s important that everything is documented and submitted to the court for approval.

Home Study Requirements in California

CA adoption laws require that every hopeful adoptive family complete a home study to ensure they’re eligible to adopt. A home study is an assessment of an adoptive family’s life, home and suitability to adopt. It includes three main parts: an in-home visit, a home inspection and a documentation phase.

The documentation phase is easily the most time-consuming, and you should prepare to show:

  • A driver’s license and proof of insurance

  • Birth certificates

  • Marriage certificates

  • Health statements

  • Background checks and clearances

  • Financial statements

  • References

  • Autobiographical statements

For more information about what adoption laws in California say about home studies, see “Guide to an Adoption Home Study in California.”

California Adoption Agencies

As a full-service, national adoption agency, American Adoptions works with California birth moms and adoptive families alike. If you’re interested in pursuing adoption or learning more about California’s adoption laws, call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a social worker, or request information here





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