Whether you are looking to adopt, looking to place your child for adoption, or searching for information about home studies and where to begin the process, the following information will be your guide to all things adoption in California.

As a resident of California that is considering newborn adoption, you have many options. If you are a prospective Birth Mother or hopeful Adoptive Parent, the following page provides information about adoption in California.

What you need to know about placing a baby for adoption in California

If you are considering placing your baby for adoption, understanding how the adoption process works as well as knowing your rights may relieve some of your worry. Here are a few things to know when thinking about adoption for your baby in California:

Who Must Consent to an Adoption in the California?

Consent for adoption in California is required by the following:

  • Birth Parents
  • The parent having custody if the other parent:
  • Fails to communicate with and support the child
  • Fails to respond to notice of adoption
  • The spouse of the Adopting Parents, if the adopting parent is married
  • The child being adopted if they are at least 12 years old

In California, a minor is emancipated for the purpose of giving consent to adoption.

When is consent not necessary for adoption in California?

The consent of a presumed father is not required for the child’s adoption in California unless he became a presumed father before the mother’s relinquishment, before consent becomes irrevocable, or before the mother’s parental rights have been terminated.

The consent of a birth parent is not necessary when he or she has:

  • Been judicially deprived of the custody and control of the child
  • Voluntarily surrendered the right to the custody and control of the child
  • Deserted the child without provision for identification of the child
  • Relinquished the child for adoption to a licensed or authorized child placing agency in another jurisdiction

When may consent to adoption be given in California?

For direct placements, a Birth Mother can give consent after the child is born and she is discharged from the hospital. Consent must take place in the presence of an Adoption Service Provider or other delegated agent who has advised the parents of their rights. For adoptions through an agency, Birth Parents can give consent any time after the child is born. The adoption consent form must be signed before two witnesses and acknowledged by an official of the agency.

Consent to adoption given by an Indian child's parent is not valid unless both of the following occur:

  • The consent is given in writing at least 10 days after the child’s birth and recorded by a judge
  • The judge certifies that the terms and consequences of the consent were fully explained in English and understood, or that they were interpreted into the language that the Birth Parent understood.

Can a Birth Parent revoke their consent to adoption in California?

In a direct placement, after consent has been given, the parents have 30 days to submit a signed revocation and request the return of the child or to sign a waiver of the right to revoke consent.

In an agency adoption, consent is final and may only be rescinded by mutual consent unless the birth parent has specified an adoptive parent and that placement is not finalized; then the parent has 30 days to rescind.

After the final adoption of an Indian child, the child's parent may withdraw consent to the adoption upon the grounds that consent was obtained through fraud or duress and may petition the court to vacate such decree; however, parental consent can only be revoked up to two years after the adoption was finalized.

What rights do Birth Fathers have in the adoption process in California?

In California, parental rights are given to the presumed father of the child if:

  • He and the child's mother are or were married to each other, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage ended.
  • Before the birth of the child, he and the child’s mother attempted to marry, and the marriage is or could be declared invalid, and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the marriage is terminated.
  • He gave his consent to be listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate.
  • He has acknowledged his paternity in writing.
  • He is obligated to support the child, either by voluntary agreement or court order.

The following reasons are grounds for termination of a Birth Father or Mothers parental rights:

  • If the presumed father cannot be located for six months
  • If he has failed to visit or contact the child for six months
  • He has been convicted of a felony indicating parental unfitness

Pregnancy Resource Centers in California

Pregnancy Resource Centers, sometimes also called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” are usually not-for-profit clinics where expectant parents may seek assistance to confirm a pregnancy and review and discuss available options. Most Pregnancy Resource Centers are not staffed by medical personnel, and do not distribute contraceptives. Many are affiliated with pro-life organizations, so encourage parenting or adoption, however not all have religious affiliation. Our city pages provide information for Pregnancy Resource Centers throughout California: (Anaheim, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Fontana, Fremont, Fresno, Irvine, Los Angeles, Modesto, Moreno Valley, Oxnard, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton).

Pregnancy Clinics and Low Cost Prenatal Care in California

Clinics are staffed by medical personnel and can address most aspects of prenatal care and family planning. They are able to perform STD and cancer screenings (pap smears, and sometimes mammograms), and can prescribe and distribute contraceptives. Clinics in California that provide prenatal care are listed on our city pages: (Anaheim, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Fontana, Fremont, Fresno, Irvine, Los Angeles, Modesto, Moreno Valley, Oxnard, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton).

In addition, information about prenatal care through Medicaid that is available in California to women with limited financial resources may be found at California’s MediCal Access Program.

Hospitals in California

Adoptive parents and expectant mothers should create a hospital plan to ensure that the desires and rights of all parties are respected. You will work with your adoption professional and your delivery hospital to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Hospitals in California with Birthing Centers or that have maternity services are provided on our city pages: (Anaheim, Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Fontana, Fremont, Fresno, Irvine, Los Angeles, Modesto, Moreno Valley, Oxnard, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton).

What you need to know about adopting a baby in California

For those in California who wish to adopt a baby, below you will find home study agency resources and helpful information to assist you with the adoption process.

To get started on your adoption journey, it is important to understand some of the fundamental aspects and frequently asked questions about the process. Here are a few things to know when considering adoption in California:

What are the laws and requirements for adopting a baby in California?

In California, a child may be legally adopted by an adult who is at least 10 years older than the child. If the adoptive parent is a sibling, stepparent, aunt or uncle, first cousin, or another family member who is married and looking to adopt jointly, an exception may be made. Same sex couples may petition for joint adoption in this state as well.

How much does it cost to adopt a baby in California?

Expenses related to adoption in California range widely depending on the type of adoption you decide to pursue. Are you looking to adopt internationally or domestically? Through a private agency or the foster care system? Depending on what you decide, Adoptive Parents may be asked to cover Birth Mother expenses such as:

  • Medical costs of the Birth Mother and child
  • Travel expenses
  • Counseling services
  • Rent
  • Legal representation
  • Fees from an adoption agency or professional

All Birth Mother expenses must be approved by a California court. Payment of Birth Mother assistance should not go beyond the necessary medical and living expenses accumulated during the adoption process.

How do you become a foster parent in California?

All foster parents in California are required to obtain a license before they can legally foster a child. To obtain a license, you and your family will be interviewed and your home will be visited to ensure the safety requirements enforced by California law. A social service worker will help with this evaluation and assist in determining the placement of a child into your home.

Can you finalize an international adoption in California?

California residents may finalize an intercountry adoption or a readoption through court action; the process requires the involvement of a licensed adoption agency.

In California, adopting a child internationally is permitted as long as the child is from a Hague Convention country. The Hague Convention is an international agreement put in place to safeguard intercountry adoptions.

Rights to enter the U.S. are not granted automatically with foreign adoption, so Adoptive Parents in California may have to go through a readoption process required by the Department of Homeland Security. Readoption is when the foreign adoption is reviewed and legitimized in a state court and the process usually includes:

  • At least one postplacement home visit
  • An adoption petition
  • The intercountry adoption report
  • A home study
  • The final adoption order

After finalizing the readoption, the child will be issued a Court Order Delayed Registration of Birth. This document has the same status as a Certificate of Live Birth, will bear the child’s new legal name, and the adoptive parents are listed as the child’s parents.

What is a facilitator and is it legal to use their services for adoption in California?

An adoption facilitator specializes in matching prospective Adoptive Families with expectant mothers; however, they may unlicensed and unregulated.

The law in California allows Adoptive Families to work with adoption facilitator that meet the qualifications set out by the California Department of Social Services, and are registered with that department.

It is important to remember that facilitators only help with the advertising and matching of their clients. Once a Prospective Adoptive Family and Birth Mother have been matched, the facilitator will refer their clients to adoption professionals who will then help with the remaining process

Click here to read about the difference between adoption agencies, attorneys, and facilitators.

Home study and Post Placement Requirements in California

As is the case throughout the United States, prospective adoptive families living in California are required to complete a home study before beginning the adoption process and also undergo post-placement assessment once a baby is placed in their home. The home study process confirms that the home will be a safe and stable environment for an adoptive placement.

What is the home study and what happens during the process?

In California, the home study is conducted by a social worker who works with a licensed child-placing agency. A criminal records check is required for prospective adoptive parents and all those living in the home. A person will not be approved as an adoptive parent if he or she or an adult residing in the adoptive parent’s home has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents:

  • Child abuse, child neglect, or an intra-family offense
  • A crime against children, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including physical assault or battery
  • Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense, if committed within the past 5 years

Each home study report shall include an assessment of the adoptive applicants on the following:

  • The motivation for adoption
  • Readiness to parent a child not born to them
  • The attitudes and feelings of the family and significant others involved with the family toward adoptive children
  • The attitudes of the applicants toward birth parents and the reasons the children are in need of adoption
  • Emotional stability and maturity, including the capacity to give and receive affection
  • The ability to cope with problems, stress, crises, and losses including availability of formal and informal support systems
  • The ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs
  • The attitude toward discipline and child-rearing

What are the home study requirements for adopting a baby from another state?

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside of the state is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

What is a post-placement requirement, and what happens during the process?

After a child has been placed in a home, a six-month post placement study will take place to ensure the child is adjusting well before the adoption is finalized.

In California, the post placement study consists of an in-home interview with the Adoptive Parent and Child, and up to three visits either in or outside of the home. During the post placement period, social workers can provide resources and recommend services to the Adoptive Family in order to meet the needs of the child and provide family support.

California Adoption Agencies and Professionals

California is home to some amazing adoption professionals who are ready to get your journey started, and Adoption Network Law Center is a leader in this field. Whether you are seeking resources to place your child for adoption or are interested in adopting a baby, Adoption Network Law Center works with highly qualified adoption agencies to assist with home studies as well as the legal pathway to complete your adoption journey in California:

  • AAC – Alpha Adoption Centers (www.alphaadopt.com)
    877-955-2122
    With over 25 years of experience in children’s social services, Alpha Adoption Centers is a full service Adoption Agency providing quality domestic newborn adoptions. Following the highest ethical standards, the knowledgeable social workers on our staff will walk you through the adoption process and answer any questions you might have. We will provide you in-depth preparation and support services.
  • Hope 4 Kids (www.hope4kids.com)
    949-496-9430
    Hope 4 Kids is a full service Adoption Agency, licensed by the State of California, here to assist with all your adoptive needs. Our caring counselors guide Birthmothers and the Adoptive Parents through their adoption with comfort, trust, honesty and complete support.
  • The Family Network, Inc. (www.adopt-familynetwork.com)
    916-480-1101
    The Family Network, Inc. is currently licensed in the State of California for domestic, international and embryo adoption services. These services include: adoption home studies, relinquishment of parental rights, interstate compact agreements and administration, post placement reports, agency court work, coordination with placing agencies, and coordination with immigration. The Family Network is committed to serving all races and creeds with a special humanitarian focus on orphaned and impoverished children.
  • Vista Del Mar (www.vistadelmar.org)
    310-836-1223
    We are the oldest and most trusted adoption agency in Southern California. We are licensed, accredited, approved, and nationally recognized as a leader in the field of adoption. Our Adoption Program encompasses Foster Care and Foster to Adoption, International Adoption, and Domestic Infant Adoption including birth parent options counseling and support services.

Every adoption is unique and many adoptions will transcend state boundaries requiring local representation. Adoption Network Law Center works with skilled and experienced professionals to handle all of the legal aspects of your adoption, and providing quality adoption services to prospective Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents nationwide. Adoption requires significant coordination between the attorney, the home study agency and a licensed adoption agency. Adoption Network Law Center provides access to all necessary adoption services that will coordinate the accomplishment of your California adoption plan.

Places of Interest and Things to Do

If your adoption journey leads you to the beautiful west coast, be sure to visit some of California’s most treasured hot spots:

Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim

Walk of Fame and Universal Studios in Hollywood

San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park in San Diego

Fisherman’s Wharf and Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Yosemite National Park

A Note from Adoption Network Law Center

We appreciate the time that you have taken to read about adoption in California. Adoption Network Law Center is available to answer any questions you may have about the adoption process. Call 1-866-602-9541 to speak with one of our amazing team members or visit https://adoptionnetwork.com/ to read more about our services.