About Independent Adoption
DCFS is not involved in the initial placement of children in independent adoptions. We can however help guide you through the process.
Any adult person may file a petition to adopt a child, however, the person adopting must be at least 10 years older than the child. If the child is over 12 years old, you must also get his or her consent to adopt.
File a Petition
After the petition has been filed with the Court for an Independent Adoption, the Attorney of Record or prospective adoptive parent should immediately forward a conformed copy of the petition, with filing date and action number, to the DCFS Resource Family Support and Permanency Division:
Department of Children and Family Services, Adoptions Division
Attn: Independent Adoption Unit
3530 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Documents Needed to File a Petition
- Certified copy of the birth certificate of the child to be adopted
- Certified copies of present marriage certificates (prospective adoptive parents and birth parents)
- All prior final divorce decrees (prospective adoptive parents and birth parents)
- A copy of military discharge
- TB tests on anyone in the home over the age of 18
- Verification of income
- Death certificates of any spouse where the prior marriage did not end in divorce
Home Study Process
When you or your attorney files a petition and sends a filed copy to us, a case is opened and assigned to an adoption worker who is responsible for completing the “home study”.
The study is comprised of interviews, criminal checks, employment verifications, medical reports, and references to determine, among other things, whether the prospective adoptive parents have the stability, financial security, and health to parent the child placed in their home. A medical report on the child and a report from the hospital of birth are also required.
Two interviews are conducted during the home study process. Typically, the first interview will be in the office and the second will take place at your home after all of the paperwork has been completed. The interview process is our opportunity to exchange information with you and to gather the information needed to get to know you and make an assessment of your strengths, any needs and your home environment.
Consent of Birth Parents
DCFS is responsible for obtaining the consents of the birthparents in a relative Independent adoption.
Non-relative independent adoptions require the services of a State-licensed Adoption Service Provider (ASP). ASP’s are individual adoption practitioners in the community who you must engage to obtain consents. They also must be present at the signing of the adoptive placement papers. The law allows ASPs to charge $500 for their services.
In some situations, court action may be necessary to terminate the rights of the birthparents to release the child for adoption. The Department will advise the prospective adoptive parents and their attorney of record of the need to take appropriate legal action; it is then the responsibility of the prospective adoptive parents and their attorney to see that legal action is taken in a timely manner.
Once the Home Study process is complete, DCFS will present our recommendation to the Court. The hearing will be scheduled by you or your legal representative to finalize the adoption.
You will appear before the judge with the child to be adopted. After reviewing and approving the situation, the Court will then issue an adoption decree. The State of California will issue a new birth certificate, with your name(s) as the parent(s), for those children born in California. For children born out-of-state, the adopting parents should contact that state Registrar’s Office for more information.
You or your legal representative will be required by the Court to file a report of all expenditures you paid in connection with the birth, placement and adoption of the child.
To help cover some of the costs involved in completing the Home Study process, the California State law cites that adopting families be assessed a fee of $2950. This fee is payable to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). This fee can be reduced or waived for low-income families upon verification of their income and need.