Adoption is a legal arrangement by which the adoptive parents become legally responsible for the child they adopt and obtain all legal parental rights with regard to the child. There are several different types of adoptions such as Agency Adoption, Independent Adoption, International Adoption, Step Parent Adoption, Adoption of Adults and Married Minors.

Due to strict laws regarding the confidentiality of records, case-specific information will not be given over the telephone, because proper identification cannot be established.

At the adoption hearing, the parent(s) and child(ren) (if over the age of 12) formally consent to become lawful members of the same family. The hearing is the final stage in granting a permanent home to a child. Adoption proceedings are informal; family and friends may move about the courtroom to view the proceedings and photographs may be taken. At the completion of the legal proceeding, a new birth certificate is issued for the child.

Agency Adoption 

The adoption of a child, other than an international adoption, in which the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is a party to, or joins in, the adoption petition.

Independent Adoption 

The birth parents select the adoptive parents and place the child directly with them. Custody is transferred directly between the parents, rather than through an agency.

International Adoption

A child born outside of the United States is adopted by adults living in the United States. The adoption procedure is conducted by a private agency.

Stepparent Adoption

A stepparent petitions the court for adoption of the child of him or her spouse. A domestic partner desiring to adopt a child of his or her domestic partner may also file for adoption under this procedure. Stepparent adoption to confirm parentage is when the adopting parent is in a union with the birth parent at the time the child is born and is still in the union with the birth parent. The definition of a union is: marriage, California registered domestic partnership, registered domestic partnership or civil union from out of state that is equal to a marriage.

Adoption of Adults and Married Minors

An adult may be adopted by another adult, including a stepparent, and a married minor may be adopted in the same manner as an adult.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a filing fee for an adoption?

Yes, see current fee schedule.

Are there any additional fees in an adoption case?

Yes, there are additional fees for the investigation and report that is conducted by the Department of Children’s Services or by a Private Adoption Agency.

How long does an adoption take?

An adoption may take approximately anywhere from six months to a year to complete.

May I obtain a copy of my own adoption papers?

The adoptive parents or adopted child may request a copy of the adoption paperwork which states the date and place of adoption, the child’s birth date, the names of the adoptive parents, and the name the child has taken. A release of any other information requires an order from the court. Forms are available at the Clerk’s Office.

For more information regarding Adoptions, please refer to the Judicial Council website (links below):