Determining your eligibility to adopt is usually based on a process of mutual assessment and preparation by the prospective adoptive parents and social worker, a state agency, or an Orange County adoption attorney.
Adoption is the legal process by which you establish a legal parent-child relationship when you, as the adopting parent, are not the child’s biological or birth parent. Once the adoption is final, then you as the adoptive parent(s) hold all the legal rights and responsibilities that a birth parent-child relationship would provide. This new parent-child relationship is permanent and is the same as that of a classic birth family.
An adoptive parent can be a stepparent or domestic partner of one of the birth parents, a relative of the child who has been caring for the child, or someone not related to the child in any biological manner. There are several different types and kinds of adoptions that the California courts recognize.
Some simple examples of these are:
Stepparent of domestic partner adoption:
- Independent adoption – This is when no adoption agency or the California Department of Social Services is part of the adoption case. In this type of adoption, if the existing and adopting parents agree, the parental rights of the existing parents do not necessarily have to be terminated.
- Agency adoption – This is when the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency, or lawyer, is an integral part of the adoption case.
- International adoption – This occurs when the child to be adopted was born in another country, and although they still can be adopted, a slightly different legal path must be used to finalize the union.
An independent, international, or agency adoption:
- Either of the spouses’ or the domestic partners of the child’s parent adopts that child.
- The adopting couple must be legally married or legally registered as domestic partners.
- This is the most common form of adoption.
- Legally it is a little simpler than other types because one of the child’s birth parents remains as the parent and takes full responsibility for the child.
So, it becomes more obvious, that although you and most people or couples, might be eligible for adopting a child, the way and type of adoption you must take to do so can be confusing and complex. This is a matter that you take very seriously and demands that all the steps are taken that comply with the California laws, and done correctly the first time. By consulting, and retaining, an Orange County California family law attorney, familiar with adoption rules and laws, you can be assured that your new family is secure.
What First Steps Should I Take to Start the Adoption Process?
The California family courts guidelines always try to do what’s best for the children involved and therefore realize that a stable, healthy home provided by adoption or otherwise, fits that mold. Therefore, they usually try to be helpful, rather than hindering, the adoption process.
For example – California adopted the Assistance and Child Welfare Act that created federal incentives to encourage the adoption of special needs children. The California State Legislature created the Adoption Assistance Program with the direct intent to provide the security and stability of a permanent home through adoption.
For most adoptions though, the following questions should be answered first:
- Were you, as the parent trying to adopt (or the stepparent), in a marriage or domestic partnership with the birth parent at the time the child was born? This question would even include domestic partnerships or unions in any other state where this union is legally the same as marriage.
- Are you and the birth parent still married or domestic partners?
If the answer is “no” to either question, then you have a stepparent/domestic partner adoption case and you will have to be investigated by a California social worker and go to court. This delineation starts you off and is another example of how a family lawyer can get you started on the right path.
If you try to do this on your own, it will most likely be much more difficult than it needs to be, as you must:
- Gather all the information about the California adoption process.
- Fill out all the forms involved and supply the proper documentation and submit multiple copies.
- Have it all reviewed by the California courts.
- Correctly file the forms with the Clerk of the Courts.
- Explain the adoption to your child.
- Have papers served on the birth parent, or others involved in the case.
- Make sure to get the consent of all concerned.
- Interview with a California investigator
- Obtain a court date and handle the adoption hearing.
So, you see how daunting this process may be and California adoption laws are changing all the time. Get the help and guidance you need and consult an adoption lawyer and make absolutely sure you are on the right path for you and your family.
Does My Disability Hurt my Chances of Adopting a Child?
The simple answer to this is no. Most people are eligible to adopt, regardless of whether they are married or single, regardless of their age, income, or sexual orientation. Neither does having a disability automatically disqualify you as an adoptive parent. Always remember, that the courts always look at the health, safety, and well-being of the child being of paramount importance.
That being said, and although most people (including you) are eligible for adoption, you must travel down a seemingly winding legal path to accomplish your family’s goals. This path must represent you, and your case, in the best possible light to prove you’re the right “parent” for your child.
Your Orange County adoption lawyer will go over all the pertinent information involved in your adoption case and know the type of adoption that applies, the proper legal path to follow, and the way to legally assure your family’s future.