Adopting a child is one of the biggest commitments you can enter into under California law, and so it makes sense that the law puts rules and processes in place to avoid quick decisions and to vet potential adoptive parents. The process for adopting can take a long time, especially if you are planning to adopt a child from another state or from another country. If you need help with your adoption case or more information about how long the process will take and what steps you will need to take to adopt, call the Ventura adoption lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today to schedule a free legal consultation.
The Steps to Adopt in California
The adoption process requires multiple rounds of investigation and certification to ensure that you are fit to be a parent. In many cases, the State of California will guide you through the process, but working with an attorney can help you further. Social workers and judges are not your advocates, but an adoption attorney represents you and can fight to help you finalize your adoption and bring your child home. Our attorneys are available for help with individual adoption, adoption for same-sex couples, and other adoption cases.
During this process, you should expect to go through the following steps, each of which takes some time to complete:
Arranging the Adoption
If you are working with an agency, the agency will handle much of the arrangement and matching by helping you find a child to adopt. If you are planning on seeking a child from another state or adopting a child from overseas, much of this part of the process will be your responsibility instead.
Traveling internationally and meeting the requirements of the other country’s adoption process could require you to travel there, perhaps multiple times. In many cases, finding a child to adopt internationally can take over a year. In addition to meeting the other country’s steps and requirements, you must also meet California’s adoption requirements, which consist of the other steps on this list.
The State of California tries to ensure that potential adoptive parents do not have a criminal record or other serious obstacles holding them back from parenting. One step used to ensure you are a suitable parent is to run your fingerprints. Fingerprinting often takes one trip to a certified site to have your fingerprints taken, but running your prints through the proper databases can take days or a few weeks before the adoption authorities get the results and review them.
Again, getting a physical typically means one trip to the doctor for you, but it can take adoption agencies some time to review your physical. This physical is to ensure that you are in good health, which helps your adoption case. Just because you are unhealthy or suffering from certain disabilities should not prohibit you from being able to adopt, but it can affect the court’s view of how suitable you are as a parent. Getting the results of your physical processed can, like fingerprinting, take a couple of weeks.
Adoption agencies and the State of California like to see adoptive parents prepared for their new role and often require some sort of training or education on being a parent. These classes could take weeks or months to fit into your schedule, but you may be able to complete these faster if you have the time to focus on completing the classes.
A social worker will contact you as part of the adoption process, seeking to interview you to help determine your fitness as a parent. Discussing your interview with a lawyer ahead of time can help prepare you for the interview and the questions that will be asked. It can take a few weeks to schedule a meeting since social workers are often busy conducting other interviews and steps in the adoption process. The interview itself may take a day, but it may take time for the social worker to review your interview and determine if there are additional questions or concerns to follow up on.
Home Visits and Investigations
A social worker will also conduct a home visit as part of their investigation. This means visiting your home to check that it is a safe place to raise children. In cases where the social worker notes dangers or risks, they will often give you time to correct them, scheduling another follow-up visit. This can require multiple rounds, with each round requiring some time to schedule. Again, the actual visit itself may take only a couple of hours, but the scheduling, lead-up, and analysis can take some time, potentially even months.
Finalizing the Adoption in Court
Adoption often requires courtroom visits and processes to have the adoption finalized. A court must also get involved any time the parent is directly giving the child up for adoption since parental rights need to be transferred from the birth parent to the adoptive parent. Scheduling is, once again, one of the biggest factors that slow this process down, but there are also forms and paperwork that must be filled out, filed with the court, and served to the birth parents, which can take weeks or months to finalize. Other parties must also be given notice and time to respond, especially in cases of contested adoptions, which can slow down this process.
In more complex cases, going to court to fight for your adoption may be one of the biggest parts of your case. You should consult with a Ventura family law attorney if your adoption case involves surrogacy, reluctant parents, or third parties attempting to block the adoption.
Ventura Adoption Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
The family lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations to help our clients understand how a lawyer can help with your adoption case and what kind of process you will be beginning when you start looking to adopt. To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.