Adoption

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DO I NEED AN ADOPTION ATTORNEY?

by Paul Lerandeau, Adoption Attorney

Adoption is the process of establishing a legal parent/child relationship between a person and a non-biological child. Once the process is final, the adoptive parent has all of the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent. That new parent‑child relationship is permanent and is exactly the same as that of a birth parent. The adopted child’s birth certificate is even changed to show the adopting parent as a birth parent.

There are four types of adoption:

  1. Stepparent/Domestic Partner
    This is when a birth parent allows his or her child to be adopted by a new spouse or domestic partner. It is the most common type.
  2. Independent 
    This is when the adopting parents and the birth parents reach a private agreement.
  3. Agency 
    This is when it is arranged by the California Department of Social Services or a licensed agency.
  4. International 
    This is when the child to be adopted was born in another country.

You cannot adopt a child unless all of his/her parents’ consent or the Court terminates the non-consenting parent’s rights. There are six grounds for terminating parental rights:

Family Code section 7822 – Abandonment
Family Code section 7823 – Neglect or cruelty
Family Code section 7824 – Parents suffering from disability due to alcohol, or controlled substances, or moral depravity
Family Code section 7825 – Parent convicted of a felony, consideration of criminal record prior to a felony conviction
Family Code section 7826 – Parent declared developmentally disabled or mentally ill
Family Code section 7827 – Mentally disabled parent

You cannot adopt a child unless all of his/her parents’ consent or the Court terminates the non-consenting parent’s rights. There are six grounds for terminating parental rights:

Family Code section 7822 – Abandonment
Family Code section 7823 – Neglect or cruelty
Family Code section 7824 – Parents suffering from disability due to alcohol, or controlled substances, or moral depravity
Family Code section 7825 – Parent convicted of a felony, consideration of criminal record prior to a felony conviction
Family Code section 7826 – Parent declared developmentally disabled or mentally ill
Family Code section 7827 – Mentally disabled parent

The process of terminating parental rights can be very expensive due to the fact that any non-consenting parent is entitled to a trial and a court-appointed attorney if they want to fight you. Only in an agency adoption have the parental rights of the birth parents already been resolved. In all other cases, it is highly recommended that people seeking to adopt a child have the assistance of an adoption attorney due to the complexities involved in the process.