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independent adoption

This section tells you about:

  1. What is an independent adoption?
  2. How do I start an independent adoption?
  3. What does the Adoption Placement Agreement mean?
  4. What do I do after the Adoption Placement Agreement is signed?
  5. What else do I need to do?
  6. What is involved in the Home Study?
  7. What happens after the Home Study?
  8. How do I get ready for the hearing?
  9. What do I do after the hearing?
  10. Other adoption information at this site
  1. What is an independent adoption?

    An independent adoption (also called an Open or Private Adoption) is when the birth parents and the adoptive parents make an agreement that the adoption should go forward. There is no adoption agency involved.

    They are more direct than Agency Adoptions. The birth parents can meet the adoptive parents. The biological parents give the child to the adoptive parents – usually at the hospital when the child is born. They can also decide if they want to have contact with the child after adoption.

    The law says the adoptive parents must be at least 10 years older than the child being adopted.
    If the child is already born, the parents can give the child to the adoptive parents during the adoption proceedings. The adoption proceedings usually take about 6 months to complete.

  2. How do I start an independent adoption?

    Once you have a birth parent(s) who wants to let you adopt their child, you must arrange for an Adoption Service Provider (ASP) to meet with the birth parent(s).

    Call the Calif. Department of Social Services  to get a list of Adoption Service Providers in your area:
    (510) 622-2650 

    The Adoption Service Provider will meet with the birth parent(s) to go over procedures, forms, and options. After the child has been placed with the adoptive family, and at least 10 days after the first meeting with the ASP, the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) can sign the Adoption Placement Agreement.

  3. What does the Adoption Placement Agreement mean?

    The Adoption Placement Agreement gives the birth parent(s) the right to change their mind and reclaim the child any time within 30 days of the signing of the Adoption Placement Agreement. If this happens, the adoptive parents agree to return the child to the birth parents.

    On the 31st day after the Adoption Placement Agreement is signed, the agreement is final and cannot be canceled.

    During the 30-day period the birth parent(s) may, if they want to, sign a waiver to give up their right to reclaim the child. To do this, the birth parent(s) must call the State Department of Social Services to schedule a meeting with a Social Worker to sign a waiver:
    (510) 622-2650 

  4. What do I do after the Adoption Placement Agreement is signed?

    After the Adoption Placement Agreement is signed, you must file the Petition For Adoption with the Superior Court in the County where you live.

    You can buy a blank Adoption Petition form at a bookstore or stationery store or click to open the online Form Adopt-200 . There are helpful video instructions for this form. See See A/V instructions for ADOPT-200 video icon.

    Fill out the form and take the original and at two copies to the Superior Court in your county. File the original Petition with the clerk. Attach a copy of the Adoption Placement Agreement.

    The Clerk will ask you to pay a filing fee. Fees are listed under "Petition for Adoption" in the Family Law Fees section of the local fee schedule .

    Send an endorsed-filed copy of the Adoption Petition to the Department of Social Services. Their contact info:

    Calif. Department of Social Services 
    1515 Clay Street, Suite 308
    Oakland, CA 94612

    Phone: (510) 622-2650 

    They will then send you a letter saying they have received your petition and telling you what you need to do next.

  5. What else do I need to do?

    The Department of Social Services needs other documents, too:

    • A certified copy of the child's birth certificate
    • A certified copy of your marriage license (if applicable)
    • A certified copy of your divorce decree (if applicable)

    The Department of Social Services will tell you about other forms you need to submit when you contact them.

  6. What is involved in the Home Study?

    A social worker will come to your home at least twice to do a home study.

    The home study includes:

    • At least two visits to your home to meet with you and the child
    • Letters of reference from people who know you
    • A letter from your doctor to confirm you do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening illnesses
    • Confirmation of your marriage (if you are married), employment status and income, and
    • Finger printing to check if you have ever been convicted of child abuse or other crime. (You must tell the birth parents about any convictions, but you do not have to report minor traffic violations.)

    To check on the current fee for the Department of Social Services to do the home study and write the report, contact the Department of Social Services .

  7. What happens after the Home Study?

    At least six months after you file the Adoption Petition, the Social Worker will issue a Final Report. In most cases, the social worker recommends that the judge grant (approve) the Adoption Petition.

    The social worker will mail you a copy of the Final Report. Once you get it, file it with the court and ask the Probate Calendar Clerk for a hearing date to finalize the adoption.

    Ten days before the hearing, you must complete the following forms and turn them into the Probate Clerk’s Office. Give the clerk an original and 2 copies.

    You can download the forms by clicking on the form number above or get them from the forms section of the Judicial Council website .

    Tip: If you use the Judicial Council website, use the dropdown box to choose “Adoption.” Then, click the “See forms” button.

    Or buy them from a bookstore or stationary store. (Check the Yellow Pages under Legal Documents.)

  8. How do I get ready for the hearing?

    Get to Court 20 minutes early and let the clerk know you are there. Bring the child with you.

    Your hearing will be private in the Judge’s Chambers. You and the judge will sign the Adoption Agreement. You will sign the Adoption Expense form and the judge will then sign the Order of Adoption.

  9. What do I do after the hearing?

    Go to the Probate Department at the Downtown Superior Court to file your papers. Ask the clerk for extra, certified copies of your Order of Adoption. Send a copy of each form to the social worker who did your home study. Keep the extra copies for your records.


  10. Other adoption information at this site:

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara