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Brief overview of adoption law in California

Adoption laws vary from state to state when it comes to certain aspects. In California, adoption is the legal family law process for establishing a permanent parent-child relationship between a child and an individual who is not a biological parent. On completion of adoption, the adoptive parents have all the legal parental rights and responsibilities for the child.

If the adoption is assisted by either a licensed adoption agency or the Department of Social Service, then it is called agency adoption. If no adoption agency or state social service department is involved in the adoption process, then it is called an independent adoption. If the adopted child was born outside of the United States, it is called an international adoption. In cases of independent, agency and international adoption, the parental rights of both birth parents are completely terminated and the adoptive parents become the legal parents of the child.

Most often a child is adopted by the spouse or registered domestic partner of one of the birth parents. In cases like this, parental rights of the other parent are terminated and therefore his or her consent is required for the adoption to go through. However, if that other parent has abandoned the child for over a year and has not paid for child support, then the requirement for consent might be waived.

Sometimes, adoption may be accomplished without the consent of the other birth parent, if such an adoption is in the best interest of the child. If the other birth parent has not given voluntary consent to the adoption, he or she must be served with a notice of the adoption so that he or she has an opportunity to argue any objections before the judge before finalization of the adoption.

If the other parent cannot be easily located, then all efforts should be made by the adoptive parents to find the other birth parent. Also, there might be situations where it is not clear who the biological father of the child is or the mother might have conceived through artificial insemination by a sperm from an anonymous donor. In such situations, it is advisable to consult an attorney for guidance.

Source:, "Adoption," accessed on Dec. 18, 2014

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