How do I adopt a baby in California?

The process to adopt a child in California can vary depending on the route you decide to choose but this page will be a resource to help lead you through the adoption process and hopefully give you some insight into the way that adoption works. Each adoption journey will be different but here is what you can expect when you look to adopt a baby in CA.

  1. First, choose the type of adoption you would like to pursue in California:

    There are three types of adoptions: public, private, and international, also known as intercountry.

    Public adoption would be working alongside the state’s Foster to Adopt system by adopting children that are currently within the state’s public system. You can find more information about public adoption in California from the state’s social services website here:

    Private adoption is separate than the state’s system and can look like a couple different situations. If you are looking to adopt a step child or family member that would be considered private adoption and can be done typically through a family law attorney. If you are looking to work with an adoption agency, adoption law center or other adoption professional to help connect you with an expectant mother who is looking to place her child for adoption, that would also be considered a private adoption.

    International adoption is when a citizen of one country chooses to adopt a child who is a citizen of another country. You can read more about that process here but keep in mind that the process can differ based on the country you are looking to adopt from as there are laws and the Hague Convention in place to prevent abduction, sale, and trafficking of children and to protect and ensure that adoptions are in the best interest of the child.

  2. Next, choose the agency, organization, or adoption professional you want to adopt with in California:

    There are going to be multiple different avenues and organizations you can work with to pursue adopting a child in California. We at Adoption Network Law Center would love to help you adopt a baby in the state of California. If you are interested in working with us you can have an Adoption Associate contact you to get that process started by filling out this form.

    We also have resources to guide you in choosing an adoption professional that you would feel most comfortable with located here: 5 Tips for Choosing An Adoption Agency Professional.

  3. After you’ve chosen your adoption professional you will complete the proper home study, background check, and your Adoptive Parent Profile:

    Any adult, regardless of marital status, can adopt a child in California if they are at least 10 years older than the adoptee. Exceptions can be made if the Prospective Adoptive Parent is a stepparent or relative of the child and the court approves. All children ages 12 and older must also give their consent in the adoption process.

    If you are pursuing private newborn adoption in the state of California you will need to meet a few requirements to pass the home study and then you will have a post-placement assessment after the adoption has taken place. Both of these assessments are in an effort to assess your ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child you wish to adopt.

    What to expect for the home study process:

    During a home study in California you should expect to:

    • Submit finger prints and obtain criminal records
    • Complete individual interviews with a social worker
    • Attend adoption training classes
    • Complete in-home visit with all members of the household present
    • Provide documents such as birth certification, marriage and divorce certificates and medical records
    • Provide proof of employment and income

    Potential factors that might make negate home study approval:

    • A home study may not be approved if the prospective Adoptive Parent or any other adult living in the home has been convicted of a felony for child abuse or neglect, crimes against a child, including pornography, spousal abuse, or any crime involving violence such as rape, sexual assault or homicide.
    • If a felony has occurred within the last five years for battery, physical assault, or a drug or alcohol related offense might also disqualify you from being approved by the home study provider.

    The next step would be to build your Adoptive Parent Profile that will be shared with a Birth Mother who is considering adoption for her baby. Depending on your agency or adoption professionals’ program you might have a specific prompt to follow in order to market yourself or they will handle this process for you. Some organizations or professionals have you build a profile on your own to be sent out. Typically this process will look like gathering information to share about your family and the hopes you have for your adoption so a Birth Mother can get to know a little bit more about you and find the right family for her baby.

  4. Get selected by a birth family

    Now that you have been selected by a Birth Mother, you will work alongside your adoption professional to develop an adoption plan. If your Birth Mother is not in the same state as you, this will include getting a legal pathway in order for the adoption plan and state’s requirements. You will decide on factors about what potential visitation or communication with the Birth Mother will look like once you are selected as well as how to provide for any allowable Birth Mother support for pregnancy and medical expenses.

    You will develop this with an adoption professional who will walk through that process with you. You will establish what placement will look like once your child is born and what the requirements are for each state’s relinquishment process so that once you take the baby home you can work towards the finalization process.

  5. Finalize the adoption of your child in California

    Now that you have taken your baby home you will need to finalize the adoption in court. A judge will hear your case and, if he or she finds that everything is legal, ethical and in the child’s best interests, they will grant you parental rights. Adoption Network Law Center will be able to assist with this legal process for finalization in California.

    Once the finalization has been granted the legal aspect of your adoption process is complete. Congratulations!