Adoption FAQs

Adoption — Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I get copies of my adoption documents that were filed in a California court?

A: Adoption files are confidential and are available to the adult adoptee, adoptive parents, and their attorneys. You may file a petition with the court clerk to ask the court for permission to obtain copies from the adoption file. Contact the court where the adoption was granted. Find your court and their contact information.

For more information, go to the Department of Social Services website.

Q: What is a birth parent?

A: “Birth parent” usually means the biological parent. It can also mean the other parent when a couple has a child together legally (like same-sex couples or heterosexual couples that use artificial insemination using a donor).

Q: Does the child have to agree to the adoption?

A: If the child is 12 or older, he or she must agree to the adoption before the judge will order the adoption. Children under 12 do not have to agree.

Q: What if my child only has 1 birth parent?

A: Unless your child was conceived through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, your child most likely has another parent.

If your child was conceived through artificial insemination with a known donor and that donor’s parental rights were not ended legally, the donor could be considered to be a birth parent.

Q: What if my child’s other birth parent is deceased?

A: Tell the judge in your Adoption Request (Form ADOPT-200 | video instructions ) and at your court hearing. You will need to give the judge some type of proof, like a certified copy of a death certificate.

Q: What if my child’s other birth parent does not admit that he or she is the child’s parent?

A: Cases where parentage/paternity is contested are very complicated. Talk to a lawyer. For help finding a lawyer.

Q: I am not sure who my child’s other birth parent is. What should I do?

A: If you are not sure who your child’s other birth parent is (like if there could be 2 fathers, or if 1 man is the biological father but another man raised your child for years), talk to a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Q: What if my child was conceived through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor?

A: If your child was conceived through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, and you were the only person involved in the entire process, the only person to sign the sperm bank and hospital records, and you were not married or with a domestic partner, then you probably do not need to get anyone else’s consent. But talk to a lawyer to make sure. The judge may ask for a letter from the doctor or sperm bank confirming you did the artificial insemination on your own.

Click for help finding a lawyer.

Q: If I am the only parent listed on the birth certificate for my child, do I still need the consent of the other parent?

A: Yes.

  1. Even if you do not know who or where your child’s other parent is, you will have to try to find him or her and get their consent or get a court order ending the other parent’s parental rights.
  2. Talk to a lawyer to make sure you know what the legal rights of the other parent are in your case. Then you will know what you must do to complete the adoption legally. For help finding a lawyer.

Exception: If your child was conceived through artificial insemination with an anonymous donor, and you were the only person involved in the entire process, the only person to sign the sperm bank and hospital records, and you were not married or with a domestic partner, then you probably do not need to get anyone else’s consent. But talk to a lawyer to make sure. The judge may ask for a letter from the doctor or sperm bank confirming you did the artificial insemination on your own.

Q: What happens if I do not really look for the other birth parent, and the other birth parent shows up later to undo the adoption?

A: The other parent, once he or she finds out about the adoption, can go to court, give the judge proof that you did not do everything the law requires you to do, and try to have the adoption canceled. That is why it is very important that you follow each step and make sure that the adoption is done right.

Q: What if my child’s other birth parent does not agree (consent) to the stepparent/domestic partner adoption?

A: In most cases, you cannot ask for a stepparent or domestic partner adoption if the child’s other birth parent does not agree to the adoption.

But, in a very few cases, like when the other birth parent has abandoned the child for over a year and has not paid any child support or seen or talked to the child, you can ask for stepparent adoption.

To do this, you have to properly serve the other birth parent with the adoption notice and the other birth parent will have to show up on the court date and object to the adoption. The judge will make the final decision based on the best interest of the child. These cases are complicated. Talk to a lawyer to make sure you follow the right steps. Click for help finding a lawyer.

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