INTRODUCTION TO INDEPENDENT ADOPTION
An Independent Adoption (also called an Open or Private Adoption) is when the birth parents and the adoptive parents make an agreement that the adoption should go forward. There is no adoption agency involved.
In an Independent Adoption, the birth parent(s) can meet the adoptive parent(s). The biological parent(s) give the child to the adoptive parent(s) – usually at the hospital when the child is born. They can also decide if they want to have contact with the child after adoption.
The law says the adoptive parent(s) must be at least 10 years older than the child being adopted.
If the child is already born, the parent(s) can give the child to the adoptive parent(s) during the adoption proceedings.
STARTING AN INDEPENDENT ADOPTION
Once you have a birth parent(s) who wants to let you adopt their child, you must arrange for an Adoption Service Provider (ASP) to meet with the birth parent(s).
Contact the California Department of Social Services to get a list of Adoption Service Providers in your area.
The ASP will meet with the birth parent(s) to go over procedures, forms, and options. After the child has been placed with the adoptive family, and at least 10 days after the first meeting with the ASP, the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) can sign an Adoption Placement Agreement provided by the ASP.
ADOPTION PLACEMENT AGREEMENT
The Adoption Placement Agreement gives the birth parent(s) the right to change their mind and reclaim the child any time within 30 days of the signing of the Adoption Placement Agreement. For additional information please contact the Orange County Department of Social Services at 1 (888) 871-5437.
After the Adoption Placement Agreement is signed, you must file the Petition for Adoption with the Superior Court in the County where you live.
Fill out Form Adopt-200, ICWA 010A Indian Child Inquiry Attachment, and ICWA 020 Parental Notification of Indian Status and take the original and two copies to the Superior Court in your county. Submit your adoption forms in the Family Law Clerk’s Office of the Superior Court, located at the Lamoreaux Justice Center Room 702. The Court’s locations page has the courthouse location, phone number and office hours.
You have to pay a filing fee for each child you want to adopt. Look for the "Petition for adoption" fee in the Family Law Fees section of the local fee schedule. You can pay by cash or check. Make your check payable to “Clerk of the Court.”
ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS FOR INDEPENDENT ADOPTION
The Department of Social Services may need more documents to finalize the Independent Adoption:
- A certified copy of the child's birth certificate
- A certified copy of your marriage license (if applicable)
- A certified copy of your divorce decree (if applicable)
The Orange County Department of Social Services will tell you about other forms you need to submit when you contact them at 1 (888) 871-5437.
THE HOME STUDY PROCESS
A social worker will come to your home at least twice to do a home study.
The home study includes:
- At least two visits to your home to meet with you and the child
- Letters of reference from people who know you
- A letter from your doctor to confirm you do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening illnesses
- Confirmation of your marriage (if you are married), employment status and income, and
- Finger printing to check if you have ever been convicted of child abuse or other crime. (You must tell the birth parents about any convictions, but you do not have to report minor traffic violations.)
To check on the current fee for the Department of Social Services to do the home study and write the report, contact the Orange County Department of Social Services.
AFTER THE HOME STUDY
After the home study is completed, the Social Worker will issue a Final Report. In most cases, the social worker recommends that the judge grant (approve) the Adoption Petition.
The social worker will mail you a copy of the Final Report. Once you receive the Final Report, submit the report to the Family Law Clerk’s Office of the Superior Court, located at the Lamoreaux Justice Center Room 702. The Court’s locations page has the courthouse location, phone number and office hours.
When you submit your report, please include a Memorandum for Setting for Hearing L-0124. You will receive notice in the mail of when your hearing is scheduled. For hearing schedule information please see the Family Law Calendar web page.
Bring the following completed forms to the Court at least one week prior to your court date. NOTE: Do not sign these documents
- Adoption Agreement Form Adopt-210
- Adoption Order Form Adopt-215
- Adoption Expenses Form Adopt-230(for Agency and Independent Adoptions only)
TIP: If you use the Judicial Council website, use the dropdown box to choose “Adoption.” Then, click the “See forms” button.
PREPARING FOR THE HEARING
Bring the child you are adopting, a camera (if you want a photo of you and your child with the judge), and any friends and relatives you want to have with you.
If you are adopting a stepchild, the child, natural parent and stepparent must come to the hearing.
AFTER THE ADOPTION HEARING
All documents will be filed with the Court, and you will receive a copy of the adoption order for free. The amended birth certificate will be mailed to you by the California Department of Health Services.