Different Types of Legal Adoption Available in California
There are several different types of adoption to consider when adopting an underage minor in California. The following list briefly describes the most commonly used methods in your state so that you can begin to understand which form will be the best fit for you and your family.
Adoption through an Agency
This is a form of adoption which involves the placement of an underage minor with assigned adoptive parents through the use of either a public or a private agency in California. These agencies are always licensed and regulated by both local jurisdictions and the state. Their legal certifications, licenses and related documents should be readily available for all patrons to see.
Those two most common channels for adoption have important organizational distinctions, as well. Differences between the two include:
- Public Agencies. These agencies usually hold minors who have come into custody of the state for several reasons. These may include, but are not limited to: the loss of both parents or the single known parent; abandonment by both parents or the single known parent; and/or abusive households.
- Private Agencies. These agencies are often organized by either charities or other social service organizations, such as those conducted by churches. Most children who end up at private agencies are typically brought to the agency because their parents are willingly giving them up for adoption.
Independent Forms of Adoption
When no agency is involved in the process of the adoption, this is referred to as a private or independent adoption. Most of these types of California adoptions involve a direct agreement between the adoptive parents and the child’s birth parents. Other types of independent adoptions include the use of an intermediary. An intermediary can include:
- An attorney,
- A doctor, or
- A clergyperson.
While not all independent adoptions require the use of an intermediary, most adopting parents will nonetheless employ a qualified attorney who will oversee the legal documents necessary for the arrangement.
It is important to note that not all states allow for independent adoptions. California, however, is one of the majority that does.
Open adoptions are a form of independent adoptions where agreed arrangement involves the ability of the birth parent(s) to maintain a form of contact with the child after birth. This should be arranged in the form of a contract and does not necessarily entail person-to-person contact, though adopting a child from a mother living and giving birth to her child outside of California may warrant some amount of communication.
Identified adoptions are commonly known as a hybrid form of adoption. They usually involve both sets of parents, who find each other outside of an agency. They then turn to an agency only for the filing process. Identified adoptions are considered hybrids because they involve both independent methods and an agency’s support.
Individuals who are looking to adopt can avoid the long waitlists common in California that agencies usually have by finding a birth parents his or her self. They can nonetheless continue to enjoy the benefits an agency offers. This includes counseling services and years of experience. Further, identified adoptions may be available in states where independent adoptions are otherwise banned.
When an adoptive parent in California assumes the legal responsibility of a minor who is a citizen of another country, this is known as an international adoption. In order for this process to be successful, the adoptive parent must abide by the rules and regulations of his or her home state as well as the child’s home country. Once the procedure has taken place, the parent must obtain a visa for the minor. To obtain the document, the parent must go through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
It is important to understand that there have been recent changes to international adoption practices. Federal regulations have been set in place that restrict the process entirely. Many of these changes have occurred due in part to hidden fees, corruption, and child abduction practices. Want to to learn more about these and other regulations which may affect your international adoption process? Contact an adoption attorney near you who can guide you through the process.
Adoptions Attained by a Stepparent
There are times when a stepparent will want to legally adopt the children his or her spouse had with a previous partner. These types of adoptions are usually less complicated than those handled by agencies. The process can be simple, especially if both of the child’s biological parents approve of the arrangement. In the event that one of the child’s biological parent is against the arrangement or he or she cannot be located, more legal proceedings will need to be made which require the aid and support of a qualified attorney.
Same-Sex Adoptive Parents
The rules in regard to same-sex adoptive couples can rest on the state where the arrangement will be taking place. In states that recognize same-sex partnerships, same-sex couples can adopt underage children together and one individual can adopt the child of the other. In accordance to the couple’s home state, the adoption procedure can be streamlined by following the same procedure a stepparent does, which makes the procedure economical and stress-free.
Relative Adoptions, Also Known As Kinship Adoptions
Many situations arise in a person’s life that can require the inability to care for his or her own child. A kinship adoption can happen when a member of the child’s family takes on the responsibility of legally caring for that child under California’s understanding of a custodial guardian after the child’s parents are legally ordered to cease parental rights. This can happen in a multitude of ways including, but not limited to, the biological parents’:
- Drug abuse,
- Mental health issues,
- Imprisonment, and/or
These types of adoptions are generally easier than non-relative adoption procedures.
Adopting Over Legal Age Persons
Most states allow for an adult to legally adopt another so as long as there is a minimum ten (10) year age difference among the parties, including California. There is also the need to demonstrate why the arrangement benefits both parties mutually. This can often be done by stepparents who wish to assure their stepchildren’s inheritance rights.
Similarly, adults with no absolute relation to the younger individual may also wish to go through this process. There are, however, protections set forth by most states to oversee these arrangements in order to avoid elder financial abuse.
Not sure which type of adoption is best for your family? Talk to an experienced adoption attorney in your state. They know the laws, and they can tell you with first-hand experience what to expect with each different type. They can guide you through the complex process so that nothing gets overlooked.