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Adoption Requirements in California

Qualifications to Adopt in CA

As someone considering adoption in California, you may be wondering if you meet California’s adoption requirements. We're here to help.

You can contact our adoption specialists at any time to get more information aboug California's adoption requirements.

The Golden State doesn’t require that you be wealthy or hold a prestigious job, but it does ask for a few qualifications for adoption in California to ensure that you will be able to provide a child with a safe and loving home. Below, we’ve rounded up a few common questions about adoption requirements in California:

How old do you have to be to adopt in California?

California has no adoption age limit. The state simply requires that an adoptive parent be at least 10 years older than the child he or she is adopting. However, there are some exceptions to this rule if the adoptive parent is a stepparent, sibling, first cousin, aunt or uncle. In any of these scenarios, if the hopeful parent is married, he or she must adopt jointly with their spouse.

Do you have to be married to adopt in California?

No, California has no marriage requirements for adoption. However, as a national adoption agency, American Adoptions has requirements of its own that satisfy all state laws rather than just those of California. Currently, American Adoptions is only accepting couples who have been married for at least two years. There is, however, an exception process, so be sure to contact us if you don’t meet this requirement but still wish to adopt through our agency.

Can a felon adopt a child in California?

There is no black-and-white answer to this question. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, whether or not you can adopt in California will depend largely on the felony itself. If it involved any sort of child abuse or assault or domestic violence, you will most likely not be able to adopt a child. However, if the felony was of a different nature, your social worker will talk with you about the felony, why it happened, how long ago it happened, and what you’ve learned from your mistakes. If he or she determines that you’ve made steps to correct past mistakes, you may still meet California’s adoption requirements.

What are the emotional requirements to adopt a child?

If you’re legally eligible to adopt, it’s important that you be emotionally ready as well. Some questions to ask are:

  • Have you completely moved on from infertility?

  • Are you on the same page as your spouse about adopting?

  • How will you tell your loved ones about your adoption decision?

  • Do you understand that there will be highs and lows in the adoption process?

If you feel ready and confident in all of your answers to these questions, congratulations! Fully committing to adoption is not always an easy journey, but it’s such a worthwhile one once you do.

Requirements to Adopt a Child from the California Foster Care System

While American Adoptions only helps to complete private domestic adoptions, we support any family interested in adopting through California’s foster care system. For the most part, the requirements to foster parent or to adopt from foster care are the same as the above adoption requirements.

If you’re interested in foster parenting, California Department of Social Services staff members will work with you to determine the type of child that’s best suited to stay in your home in terms of health issues, gender, age, and more.

If you’re interested in adopting from foster care, you’ll need a home study just as you would in a private adoption. This will determine whether you’re prepared to adopt by investigating whether your house is clean and safe, whether you have experience with children, whether you can afford to properly care for the child, and if all members of your household are eager and ready to adopt. 

As a licensed home study provider in California, American Adoptions has streamlined the home study process so that you can complete your home study with us faster and more efficiently than any other agency. Follow this link to begin your home study and to learn more about the services we offer.

If you have questions about whether you meet American Adoptions' and California’s adoption requirements, or if you’re ready to start the adoption process today, please call 1-800-ADOPTION to speak with a social worker. 

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