Ventura, CA Adoption Lawyer
Congratulations on making the decision to adopt a son or daughter. Giving a child a caring home is an act of love that marks the beginning of a rewarding lifelong journey for you and your entire family. However, while adopting is a joyous experience, the legal process can be confusing and difficult for adoptive parents. In order to navigate California’s adoption laws as efficiently and successfully as possible, you will need guidance from experienced adoption lawyers who can advise you of your options, rights, requirements, and responsibilities as an adoptive mother or father.
At The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, we understand how much adopting means to you. For many of the clients we represent, parenthood has been a lifelong dream. We take those dreams as seriously as you do, providing around-the-clock guidance and support to facilitate the process to the greatest extent possible. We will be there to answer your legal questions about adoption, help you manage adoption paperwork, prepare you for screenings and interviews, and look for effective solutions to problems or obstacles that may arise during adoption proceedings.
With law offices conveniently located in Ventura, our family law attorneys are proud to represent adoptive families in both counties. To learn more about adopting a child in California, call us today at (805) 643-5555 for a free legal consultation.
California Child Adoption Process for Adoptive Parents
One of the first things for adoptive families to understand is that there are two basic types of adoption in California:
- Agency Adoption (Public, Private)
- Independent Adoption
There are two types of adoption agencies from which adults can adopt children: public adoption agencies, and private adoption agencies. Many of the children in public agencies, which are funded by taxes, are there because they were removed from abusive homes or neglectful parents. Public adoption agencies are generally more affordable than private adoption agencies because of the tremendous demand for adoptive parents.
Private adoption agencies are funded by fees from adoptive parents, and, in some cases, foundation grants. Children in private adoption agencies are generally there due to being voluntarily relinquished by their biological parents. If you wish to adopt through an agency, we can help you make a decision about whether to adopt from a public adoption agency or private adoption agency in Southern California.
Adoption agencies require families to undergo screenings called “home studies.” The purpose of home studies is to evaluate the adoptive family’s home environment for potential health and safety issues, such as evidence of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, squalor, or violence.
The other, more common option for adopting in California is called “independent adoption,” which many people find preferable to going through an agency. Independent adoption is sometimes called “open adoption,” “direct adoption,” or “private adoption,” not to be confused with the private adoption agencies described above.
In an independent adoption, the birth mother and adoptive family coordinate amongst themselves with assistance from an attorney, without an agency becoming involved. However, adoptive parents are still required to undergo home studies, which are conducted by the Department of Social Services. The fees for these studies generally amount to several thousand dollars, though there are some situations where it is possible to have the fees reduced.
Requirements for Adopting a Child in California
If you want to adopt a child, toddler, or baby in California, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. To adopt a child in California, you must:
- Pay all fees required by the adoption agency or state agency.
- Successfully complete all of the home studies.
- Be at least 18 years old. (If you wish to become a foster parent, you must be at least 21 years of age.)
Keep in mind that adoption agencies sometimes impose additional requirements that are not found in state or federal laws. For example, certain adoption agencies require the adoptive parents to be married, meet higher age requirements, or meet other standards.
Many people contact us with the question, “Can you adopt a child if you have a criminal record?” In many cases, but certainly not all cases, the answer is no.
Ultimately, it depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the crime, when the crime occurred, and your history since the conviction. While a criminal record will not necessarily make it impossible to adopt a child, it does make the process considerably more difficult. Recent crimes, violent crimes, and crimes against children generally make adoption impossible, whereas older, non-violent misdemeanor convictions may be possible to surmount. Crimes that will disqualify someone from adopting under federal law include:
- Child Abuse
- Child Neglect
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Assault
Ventura Adoption Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
Regardless of whether you choose independent adoption or an agency-assisted adoption, you should be prepared to undergo rigorous examination. The adoption screening and preparation process can be quite intensive, as is necessary to protect the safety and welfare of adoptee children. Our Ventura, CA adoption attorneys will explain what to expect, what sort of documentation you will need to gather, the adoption fees and legal timelines that you should be aware of, and other critical information that will make the process simpler, faster, and easier.
Our attorneys for families have decades of experience helping men, women, and married couples adopt children in Southern California. We work with clients throughout Ventura County and other communities in the area.
We are proud of the role we play in helping Californians to build and strengthen loving families through the power of adoption. If you’ve dreamed of becoming an adoptive mom or dad, we can help you make it a reality. For a free legal consultation about adoption in California, call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 643-5555 today.