Adoption is a legal arrangement by which the adoptive parents become legally responsible for the child they adopt and obtain all legal parental rights with regard to the child.
There are several types of adoptions in California:
- Agency Adoption: The adoption of a child, other than an international adoption, in which the California Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency is a party to, or joins in, the adoption petition.
- Independent Adoption: The birth parents select the adoptive parents and place the child directly with them. Custody is transferred directly between the parents, rather than through an agency.
- International Adoption: A child born outside of the United States is adopted by adults living in the United States. The adoption procedure is conducted by a private agency.
- Stepparent Adoption: A stepparent petitions the court for adoption of the child of her or her spouse. A domestic partner desiring to adopt a child of his or her domestic partner may also file for adoption under this procedure.
- Adoption of Adults and Married Minors: An adult may be adopted by another adult, including a stepparent, and a married minor may be adopted in the same manner as an adult.
At the adoption hearing, the parent(s) and child(ren) (if over the age of 12) formally consent to become lawful members of the same family. The hearing is the final stage in granting a permanent home to a child. Adoption proceedings are informal; family and friends may move about the courtroom to view the proceedings and photographs may be taken.
At the completion of the legal proceeding, a new birth certificate is issued for the child.