A step-parent adoption is one in which a step-parent files a petition with the court to adopt their stepchild while the spouse or birth parent also retains his or her custody of the child.
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.
After the petition has been filed with the Court for a Stepparent Adoption, the Attorney of Record or prospective adoptive parent should immediately forward a confirmed copy of the petition, with filing date and action number, along with the documents listed below to the DCFS Resource Family Support and Permanency Division:
Department of Children and Family Services, Adoptions Division
Attn: Stepparent Adoption Unit
1933 So. Broadway St., 7th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90007
To obtain an information packet containing the stepparent questionnaire and VS-44, please call the Stepparent Adoption Program at (213) 763-9368 and provide your name, address, telephone number, and specify that you would like an information packet.
A social worker will be assigned to assist you with the stepparent adoption process once all information has been received together.
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 process involves interviews with the stepparent and the custodial parent at the DCFS office, obtaining the consent of the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, if he or she wishes to sign. After gathering together all the facts pertinent to the case, including a criminal records check, the worker then files a report with a recommendation to the court.
DCFS is responsible for obtaining the consent of the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, if he or she wishes to sign.
If the non-custodial parent consent is not obtained, legal action is required to terminate the rights of a birth or legal parent who is not willing to consent, or whose whereabouts is unknown. Notification of the need for any legal action occurs after the social worker interviews the family and no consent is obtained.
Families usually hire an attorney or a paralegal to assist them with the legal action and other court-related matters. We cannot assist with the parental termination or other legal actions that may become necessary.
The stepparent adoption workers also handles surrogate adoption cases, which are more complicated and require more attention to make sure that rights of all the parties involved are protected. The worker must extend due process to all parties involved and report to the court. Either the attorney of record or the family petitioning for the stepparent adoption must complete a legal search that can be evaluated by the court.
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, California State law cites that adopting families be assessed a fee of $700. 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.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call the Stepparent Adoption Program 213-763-9368.