Contact Us 916-238-3884


Navigating Adoption: Legal Considerations for Prospective Parents

Posted by Jason Wagner | Feb 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

For Sacramento couples looking to grow their family through adoption, there are numerous considerations that you will have to make along the way. One way to ensure the process goes smoothly and quickly is to hire a Sacramento adoption attorney to guide you through each step of the adoption process. The adoption attorneys at Wagner Family Law are thrilled to help prospective parents navigate California's complex adoption process. Below, our attorneys provide a comprehensive guide for prospective parents looking to grow their family by adopting a child. 

Types of Adoption in California

Generally, there are two types of adoption and then various subtypes. The two general categories are domestic adoption and international adoption. As the name suggests, domestic adoption involves the adoption of a U.S. citizen, while international adoption involves the adoption of a child who comes from abroad. 

There are two types of international adoption. Those are:

  • U.S. readoption - This type of adoption takes place when a family adopts a child from overseas. This is among the most complicated forms of adoption because parents have to navigate both U.S. laws and the laws of the foreign country. Complex procedures need to be followed under the Hague Convention before you can formalize the adoption in the United States. 

  • International relative adoption - You can adopt an internationally-born relative if both you and the child currently live in the United States. The process is complicated, and if not done properly, it can bar a child from receiving citizenship. The process must be handled by a skilled California adoption attorney.

Types of domestic adoption include:

  • Agency adoptions - Adoption agencies are licensed by the state of California and provide options for a birth mother to match with a prospective adopting family. These agencies provide classes for prospective parents and help place children into loving homes. 

  • Independent adoption - Independent adoptions involve the direct placement of a child into an adopting family through the birth mother. In some cases, no adoption agency is involved in the placement. Attorneys generally prepare legal paperwork and help the parents prepare for the adoption process. 

  • Stepparent adoption - To adopt a child as a stepparent in California, the biological parent must have relinquished all parental rights to the child, or you must apply for a three-parent adoption. Alternatively, the child's biological parent's rights may have been terminated by the court for legal abandonment. If you meet the criteria, a stepparent can adopt a child and become the child's legal parent, having full parental rights over the child. A three-parent adoption allows a stepparent to gain parental rights over a child while the biological parents retain their parental rights. 

  • Foster adoption - If the parental rights of the biological parents have been terminated by the court, foster parents may apply for a foster parent adoption. 

  • Same-sex confirmation of parentage adoption - Confirmation of parentage occurs when the adoptive parent is in a legal union with the birth parent at the time the child is born. These cases apply to same-sex couples who use assisted reproduction technology to have a child and involve a simplified adoption process. 

What are the Steps in California to Complete an Adoption?

California's adoption rules require parents to complete numerous steps before an adoption is authorized. The length of the process generally depends on the type of adoption that is taking place. Each case is unique and will have its own timeline. 

The first step of the adoption process is to complete a home study. This is accomplished through the use of a private agency or the Department of Social Services. Wagner Family Law helps parents locate agencies that will help them conduct the home study. The home study involves an extensive investigation into both the parents and the environment they will provide to the child. The agency will ensure that the home is safe for the parents and ensure that they are placing the child in a safe environment. 

Next, you will have to obtain consent for the adoption, and the court will terminate the birth parents' parental rights. You may need to negotiate an agreement with the birth mother concerning post-adoption contact. You may also be required to compensate the birth mother for pregnancy-related expenses. 

After the home study, the agency will hopefully approve your adoption, and you will be ready to schedule a hearing in court to finalize the process. 

The Sacramento adoption attorneys at Wagner Family Law will help you every step of the way, prepare you for the home study, and help you file the necessary legal paperwork. 

Navigating the Home Study in California

California has few specific requirements related to adopting parents. A parent must be at least 10 years older than the child they are adopting. Exceptions are made in the case of stepparent or relative adoptions, but agency adoptions require a 10-year age difference. The only major impediment that California families encounter when adopting a child is passing the home study. 

All adoptive parents are required to complete a home study, which includes a criminal background check, during which you must submit your fingerprints before you can be approved to adopt a child in California. 

During the adoption home study, you will be required to:

  • Submit fingerprints

  • Complete a medical examination

  • Take adoption training classes

  • Take interviews with a social worker

  • Complete an in-home visit and investigation conducted by a social worker

During the background check, if the agency uncovers evidence of child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, child pornography, rape or sexual assault, or homicide, you will likely be disqualified from adopting a child in California. The home study will likely not be approved if an adult residing in the home has been convicted of specific felonies. While some bans are permanent, others may be lifted if the offense is more than five or 10 years old. 

Talk to a Sacramento, CA, Adoption Attorney Today

Wagner Family Law is pleased to help prospective parents navigate the adoption process. Call our office today, and we can begin helping you apply to adopt, file the necessary paperwork, and prepare for the home study. 

About the Author


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

Wagner Family Law is committed to answering your questions about Family Law Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, Private Settlement Conference, Mediated Settlement Agreements, Consulting and Second Opinions, Modification of Spousal/Child Support, Mediated Custody Agreements and Mediated Pre & Post Marital Agreements Law issues in Northeastern California including Sacramento and surrounding areas.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Wagner Family Law, Inc. 3626 Fair Oaks Blvd Suite 189, Sacramento, CA, 95864