I Want to Give My Child Up For Adoption. How Do I Do It?
Choosing to put your child up for adoption is a loving choice that you can make so he or she can live the best life possible with a loving family who will care for them in a way you might not be able to. Adoption is a difficult choice and much more than a legal decision. Understanding the adoption laws is important if you’ve decided you’d like to put your child up for adoption. This will be a life-changing experience, both for you and for the family you choose for your child. Here’s what you should know about adoption in California.
Adoption Laws in California
If you plan to give another family the gift of your child, you want to be sure you’re doing it legally and correctly, according to California law. The laws govern each step of the process, which includes who is eligible to adopt, the fees that are paid and the finalization of the adoption. Here are the answers to some common questions regarding adoption in California. You can also find many of the forms you need for adoption online.
It starts with a home study of the family doing the adopting.
How does the home study work?
There are a few things required during a home study, which, again, ensure that you are choosing a family who is prepared to give your child the care you aren’t able to. These include the following:
- Physical exam
- Social worker interviews
- Training classes on adoption
- An in-home visit with a social worker
What keeps a home study from being approved?
The primary reason a home study isn’t approved is if anyone living in the home has been convicted of one of the following felonies:
- Child abuse
- Child neglect
- Spousal abuse
- Any crime against a child (i.e. child pornography)
- Any violent crime, including rape, homicide, or sexual assault
- Physical assault
- Any drug or alcohol-related offense in the last five years
Putting Your Child Up for Adoption
If you have decided to give your unborn baby up for adoption, it’s important to understand the rights you have throughout the process. Here are the answers to some questions you might have.
Who must consent to the adoption?
In California, the following individuals must consent to the adoption:
- Both living parents, if the father is named on the birth certificate
- If the father is not on the birth certificate, he must be notified but doesn’t have to give consent
- The custodial parent, in cases where the other parent has been out of contact for more than one year or if the other parent doesn’t respond to adoption notifications
- If the parent is married, the adoptive parent’s partner
- The child being placed for adoption, if over 12 years of age
When and how to give consent?
This depends on the type of adoption you choose. If you choose an agency adoption, this occurs any time after giving birth and after leaving the hospital. These forms must be signed with two witnesses.
If you do an independent adoption, you can sign the forms any time after leaving the hospital. An adoption service provider must be present when you sign.
If your child is covered by IWCA, your signature must be placed on the forms in front of a superior court judge and this must be done any time after the child is born and as soon as the tribes have received at least 10 days’ notice of the hearing.
Can I change my mind and how long do I have?
Again, this depends on the type of adoption. If you have an agency adoption, you can revoke within 10 days or before the acknowledgement is issued, whichever happens first. In an independent adoption, you have 30 days. You can also sign a waiver of the right to revoke, which only gives you until the close of the business the next day to revoke.
Under ICWA, you can withdraw any time before the adoption is finalized.
Does the father have to be included in the process?
Under California law, any man who could be the father of the baby must be given notice of the adoption. Once each of them has been contacted, the following will happen:
- If supportive, he can sign the forms after you give birth
- If he doesn’t want to be involved, he can sign a Waiver of Notice of Denial of Paternity
- If you get no response from the father, his parental rights are terminated once the baby is born
What expenses can I get help with?
Under California law, the parents you’ve chosen to give your baby to can pay for expenses directly related to your maternity needs, including food, housing, clothing, transportation, utilities and medical care.
You must sign for all of these items, as receipts must be presented in court to finalize the adoption.
Finding a reputable adoption agency can help you get through this process and ensure that you find the perfect family for your baby.