Adopting a child is a life-changing event. It means adding another member to your family. As exciting as this can be, it’s a complex process and every state has its own adoption rules.
To make the process easier, prospective adoptive parents should consult a family law attorney and be aware of the adoption regulations in their state.
If you are looking to adopt in California, here are some basic things you should know:
- Types of adoptions
There are three main types of adoption:
- Agency adoptions—These are for children whose birth parents lost their parental rights in court or relinquished them. An adoption agency gets custody of the child until it is adopted. There are public and private adoption agencies.
- Independent adoptions—These are private adoptions in which the birth parents voluntarily give their child to the adoptive parents that they choose. They do this with the help of an adoption service provider (ASP).
- Intercountry adoption—These are adoptions of foreign-born children who receive a special immigration entry visa. The adoption must fulfill the requirements of both the origin country and California.
As a prospective adoptive parent, you’ll want to carefully consider what type of adoption is right for you and your family.
- Adoptive parent requirements
So what does it take to be an adoptive parent? Well, here are some of the parent requirements you should know:
There is no adoption age limit. The adoptive parents just have to be at least 10 years older than the child. However, there are exceptions to this rule for stepparents and relatives.
Both parents can be working so long as childcare arrangements are made. And you don’t even have to be married to adopt. Single parents can adopt as well.
You will need to pass a home study to see that you and your house are suitable for an additional child. The inspection checks to see that your house is clean and safe. You don’t have to own the house, but it does need to be big enough for an extra child.
The home study also includes adoption training classes, interviews with social workers, and a criminal background check. You can’t have any felonies on your record for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, any crime against a child, or violent crimes like sexual assault, rape, or homicide.
- How much does it cost to adopt?
You may have heard that adoptions are expensive, and they certainly can be. But it all depends on what kind of adoption you choose.
For independent adoptions, you’ll only pay fees for completing and filing the adoption forms and any lawyer fees.
For public agency adoptions, the agency or the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) will charge a fee of up to $500. You may also pay for some other additional court filing fees like fingerprinting, medical examinations, and more. But you can expect these not to exceed $300.
For private agency adoptions, the average cost ranges from $15,000 to $40,000. This includes the registration and application, home study and adoptive family instruction, attorney fees, and other fees.
And finally, for international adoptions, you’re looking at $20,000 to $40,000. This includes the same fees as for private agency adoptions plus the cost of travel, translation, and the visa.
- How long does it take to adopt?
Typically, it takes 6 months to a year for a family assessment and then another one to several months for final approval. That means the entire adoption process can easily require one to a couple of years.
- How to find a child to adopt
If you’re looking for a child to adopt, start by contacting your local public adoption agency or the California Department of Child Services (CDSS). They can help you know what options are available to you and which ones best suit your circumstances and wishes.
Adopting a child is a great way to become a parent. Whether you can’t have biological children or you simply want to help a child in need, adoption is a great choice. Learn all you can about adopting in California and then get your house and finances in order. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of a smooth adoption process.