Orange County CA ADOPTIONS FAQ: What should I know about Adoptions in Orange County, CA?
The Basics of Adoptions in Orange County, California: What should I know about Adoptions?
Adopting children used to be a taboo in American culture, but today it is a part of the mainstream. When a parent adopts a child, that parent is taking on all of the legal rights and responsibilities regarding the child - the same rights and responsibilities that a biological parent would have. An adoptive parent is generally not the child’s biological parent. The biological parent’s rights will be terminated during an adoption.
There are several ways to adopt a child. The place where the child comes from, the person adopting the child, the requirements for adoption, and the application process can all vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the adoptive parent or parents, and the child.
The best way to understand and work through the adoption process is by working with a qualified adoption lawyer in Orange County. Your attorney can help you understand the complex laws surrounding a California adoption and how they apply to your case.
In the meantime, we’re here to help you understand some of the basics regarding adoption in California, and answer some of the most frequent questions people ask about it.
Can I Adopt a Child I Know?
It is possible to adopt a child that you know in California. Usually, these are stepparent adoptions, domestic partner adoptions, or adoptions by close relatives when a child’s home life is disrupted, and a parent’s rights are revoked. Sometimes, adoption by a relative or stepparent or domestic partner adoptions are preferred because they allow the child to remain with someone they know, and can add stability to the child’s life over adoption by a stranger or placement in foster care.
In order for an adoption to take place, the court needs to terminate the parental rights of a child’s legal parents and assign those rights to the child’s adoptive parents. Two parents can have legal rights to a child, and adoption does not always terminate the rights of both parents or grant new rights to two parents at once.
Stepparent adoption and domestic partner adoption are the most common kinds of adoption in California. Because the child still has one biological parent, these kinds of adoptions are also simpler than adoption by a stranger. A stepparent or domestic partner adoption will allow someone who knows the child to adopt him or her if the following criteria are met.
• If the child’s parent marries or enters a registered domestic partnership, that new spouse or partner may adopt the child as a stepparent,
• The couple must be married or registered as domestic partners in order to be eligible for adopting the child.
In fact, California promotes stability in the child’s life so much that the foster care and adoption system actually favors keeping children within the same county rather than allowing an adoption or foster care even one county over. This may affect the ability of parents outside of California to adopt children from California, but will not affect parents in California who hope to adopt a child from another state or another country.
Who Can Help Me Through an Adoption?
There are several ways that an adoption can take place, and depending on the kind of adoption; it may go through a different kind of agency, or the parents may work with a different professional.
Independent adoptions usually don’t require an adoption agency, but they may work with the Department of Child Services. Stepparent adoptions and domestic partner adoptions may be done this way. It is recommended that the parents work with an attorney, especially during the court process.
Sometimes, an adoption goes through the California Department of Social Services or a licensed California adoption agency. These adoptions are usually ones where the child and parent are not familiar with one another. California encourages local adoptions, but it is possible to adopt from another county in California or another state.
International adoptions are usually done with the help of both local and international governments, and often an adoption agency as well.
Can I Adopt a Child From Outside of the United States?
It is possible to adopt a child from another country while living in California. The Intercountry Adoption Journey is a great way to get more information about international adoption laws, including the Hague Convention, which deals with international child adoption and abduction. You will need to complete the course in order to adopt a child from another country, and your certificate of completion is valid for three years.
The National Council for Adoption is another great resource for parents looking to adopt, those going through the adoption process, and children who have been adopted in the past.
Can I Adopt an American Child from Outside of California?
It is possible to adopt a child from another state outside of California. It is easier to adopt from some states than it is from others, and you will likely want to work with an adoption agency to find the right child for you.
There is a system in place called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children that regulates adoptions from one state to the other. In order to complete this kind of adoption, parents will need to meet the adoption requirements of both the state where the child is from and California. The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children will be involved in both states.
How Much Will the Government be Involved in an Adoption?
Because an adoption is a legal process of transferring parental rights from one set of parents to another, the government will be involved in every adoption process. The goal of the government’s involvement is to protect the child’s best interests in every adoption, and not to be a nuisance in a growing family.
Adopting families will need to go through a screening process that includes a background check, a training process, and a home evaluation that determines the safety of the home.
Following an adoption, there will be intermittent checks on the family so that the court can verify that the child’s needs are being met, and best interests are protected. After the adoption is finalized, the court does not have a say in the parenting of the child; the goal of adoption is to grant full parental rights to adoptive parents in the same way that biological parents have parental rights.
How Long Does an Adoption Take?
Depending on the adoption, it may take varying amounts of time. International and interstate adoptions involve meeting more requirements and more professional and legal agencies because they are regulated by more than one government. Local adoptions or stepparent and registered domestic partner adoptions are simpler and may be faster because they only work with one local government.
On average, an adoption will take less than two years. However, depending on where the child is from, how long the approval process takes and how prepared the family is for a new child, and how easy it is to find a child, an adoption can take more or less than two years.
How Much Does an Adoption Cost?
Similar to how the length of time an adoption takes can vary, the cost of an adoption can vary as well. Adoption agencies may charge extensive fees, as may attorneys, especially when working on long term adoptions, international adoptions, or complex adoptions. However, finding the right family attorney can also help hopeful parents on a budget to find a way to keep costs low and evaluate the options that are available.
Adoptions can be as low as $2,500, or as much as $40,000 depending on the specifics of the adoption, the parents, the child, and the government regulations.
What is an Open Adoption?
Today, when children are adopted in infancy, many U.S. adoptions are somewhat open. This means that the adoptive parents and the adopted child have some access to information about the child’s birth parents. There may even be ongoing contact between the adoptive family and the birth family.
The extent to which these doors are open can vary, and may depend on the needs of both the birth parents and the adoptive family and child.
Can the Birth Parents Take My Child Away?
During pregnancy, a mother considering adoption will be offered information and options regarding adoption. She will have numerous opportunities to change her mind, and has the right to do so until the child is born, at which time she can sign the adoption papers. A father’s right to his child may depend on his relationship with the child’s mother, but the state will need to attempt to locate the father before an adoption can take place.
However, adoption is a process of transferring parental rights from the birth parents to the adoptive parents. Once these rights have been terminated and transferred, the birth parents cannot take the child back. Before an adoption is finalized, there is a chance that a child may be returned to his or her birth parents.
Orange County Adoption Attorneys
This brief overview is only an introduction to adoptions in California. If you have any questions about adoptions, or if you are considering adopting a child, contact the Orange County adoption lawyers at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation with a qualified lawyer.