There are two types of step-child adoptions in California, and they are based on whether your step-child was born while you were in a relationship with their parent. If your step-child was born while you were in a relationship with their other parent, family law doesn’t require that you attend a hearing. California calls this a “stepparent adoption to confirm parentage.” Other situations are “stepparent/domestic partner adoption cases.”
Submit the court forms
Three forms that you have to fill out are Form ADOPT-200, Form ADOPT-210 and Form ADOPT-215. These forms are the adoption request, adoption agreement and adoption order. Family requires that you also fill out Form ADOPT-205 (Declaration Confirming Parentage in Stepparent Adoption) if you are making a stepparent adoption to confirm parentage. The birth parent and adopting parent need to fill out their own forms.
You could ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your forms to ensure that you filled them out correctly. It’s a good idea to make two copes of all your forms too.
To officially submit the forms, you file them with the court clerk. There is a filing fee, but you might qualify for a waiver.
Serve papers to the other birth parent
You must have someone serve papers to the other birth parent that inform them of the adoption. California law doesn’t allow you to directly serve the papers.
Acquire permission from the other birth parent
In some scenarios, California requires that you receive permission from the other birth parent. If they abandoned their child for over one year, then you don’t need permission. A judge also has the authority to make an exception if they believe it’s in the best interest of the child. The parent would typically have to be unfit for this to happen.
Interview and investigation
An investigator may interview and investigate you to determine if you will be a good parent. The investigator could be a licensed family therapist, licensed social worker or a court investigator.
You must bring the child with you to the adoption hearing. If the child is 12 years old or older, then they need to consent for you to adopt them.
Adopting a step-child in California may involve some court involvement, depending on your situation. You might also need permission from their other birth parent, unless they are an unfit parent.