California Adoption Requirements: What You Need to Know

California Adoption Requirements

California adoption requirements are different from those in other states – and the laws in our state play an important role in your entire experience. If you’re considering adopting a child in California, you may want to consult with a Stockton, CA adoption attorney who can help.

California Adoption Requirements: What You Need to Know

If you want to adopt a child in California, you’ll have to follow the letter of the law. California adoption requirements involve nearly every aspect of the process, including who’s allowed to adopt a child, how much families can pay and how the legal paperwork becomes binding. Some of the most common requirements involve:

  • The adopter’s age
  • Criminal history checks
  • Home study investigations
  • How much you can pay your baby’s birth mother
  • Consent for adoption

Here’s a closer look at each.

Related: How to get guardianship of a child in California

California Adoption Requirements - Adopter's Age

#1. California Adoption Requirements About the Adopter’s Age: How Old Do You Have to Be to Adopt a Child?

If you want to adopt a child, you must be at least 10 years older than the child you’re adopting. However, if you’re adopting a stepchild or another relative, you don’t have to meet this requirement.

California Adoption Requirements - Background Checks

#2. Criminal History Checks: A Mandatory Requirement

Every prospective adoptive parent must submit to a criminal background check. Some convictions are a permanent bar to adoption, while others are negotiable (and sometimes at the discretion of an adoption agency, if that’s the route you’re taking). You will be barred from adoption if you have been convicted of anything that requires you to register as a sex offender or endangering a child, as well as some other types of crimes. Your adoption attorney can help you understand how this law applies to you, as well.

Related: What is a legal guardian in California?

California Adoption Requirements - Home Study Investigation

#3. The Home Study Investigation

You must undergo a home study investigation if you want to adopt a child in California. This adoption requirement exists so that you can prove that you can provide a stable, nurturing home to a child. Additionally, the social worker assigned to your case can help you understand what types of adoption opportunities might be best for your family, as well as answer your questions and help you prepare for the process.

During the home study investigation, you’ll have to:

  • Submit fingerprints
  • Undergo a physical examination
  • Attend adoption training classes
  • Complete at least one individual interview with a social worker
  • Complete an in-home visit and investigation with a social worker

California Adoption Requirements - Paying a Birth Mother

#4. California Adoption Requirements on How Much You Can Pay a Birth Mother

California laws say that you can pay reasonable maternity-related medical costs for your baby’s birth mother. In some cases, you can provide money for expenses that are necessary for the birth mother or baby’s welfare or expenses that are directly related to the pregnancy. In some cases, birth mothers are allowed to receive money for:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Basic utilities
  • Transportation
  • Maternity clothing

However, the birth mother must make a written request for payment and provide written receipts for any money you provide – and you’ll have to submit the receipts to the court before a judge can finalize your adoption.

California Adoption Requirements - Consent for Adoption

#5. Consent for Adoption

Depending on your circumstances, you and your attorney may need to obtain consent from several people to go through with the adoption. You may need consent from:

  • The child’s living parents (both, if they are married or if the father is named on the child’s birth certificate)
  • The child’s custodial parent only, provided that the other parent has failed to communicate with and support the child for at least a year, or if the other parent fails to respond to notice of adoption proceedings
  • Your spouse, if you’re married
  • The child being adopted, provided the child is over the age of 12

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About California Adoption Requirements?

These are only the most basic California adoption requirements – you may need to meet other requirements as well. If you have questions about adoption, we may be able to help.

Call us at  (209) 546-6246 to set up a consultation to talk about your case and get answers to all your questions today.