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Adoption Court

Cases Involving The Transferring of Parental Rights from Biological Parent to Adoptive Parent

In an adoption, parental rights are transferred from the biological parents to the adoptive parents. Adoption is a legal arrangement; the adoptive parents become legally responsible for the child they adopt and they obtain all legal parental rights with regard to the child. This legal proceeding is so complete that a new birth certificate is issued for the child. It shows the adoptive parents' names as the child's mother and father at the time of birth. The original birth certificate is retained but sealed, so it can be accessed only by court order.

There are four types of adoptions of children under age of 18 in California:

  • Relinquishment or agency adoptions: is when a birth parent gives up and transfers his or her legal parental rights to a child to a licensed public or private adoption agency. The adoption agency becomes legally responsible for the care, custody and control of the child. The agency studies and approves adoptive applicants before placing a child in their home for adoption, then supervises the placement for six or more months before the court approves the adoption.
  • Independent adoptions: is when a birth parent places a child directly with prospective adoptive parent(s) for the purpose of adoption. Only the district offices of the California Department of Social Services' Adoptions Branch and three delegated counties (Alameda, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties) provide services under the Independent Adoption Program.
  • Intercountry adoptions: is the adoption of foreign-born children for whom federal law makes a special immigration entry visa available. Intercountry adoption includes completion of the adoption in the child's native country or in California. The adoption does not confer U.S. citizenship to the foreign-born child, and additional steps are necessary to fulfill requirements of federal immigration and naturalization laws.
  • Stepparent adoptions: is when a stepparent petitions the court for adoption of his/her spouse's child (current spouse or stepparent) from a former/marriage/relationship. Both the parent retaining custody and the other birth parent must consent to the adoption. Stepparent adoptions are handled exclusively by county government with no State agency involvement. Consents are signed before a county clerk, a probation officer or, if designated by the county board of supervisors, an employee of the county welfare department. The county board of supervisors may also designate either the probation department or the welfare department to make a study of the proposed adoption and report to the court.

Most of the laws and regulations concerning adoptions are applicable to so-called stranger adoption or unrelated adoption. That is, people seek out a child to adopt through an acquaintance or an agency. Intercountry adoptions are similar to adoptions completely within the United States, but additional requirements and procedures apply.

Adoption may take place within a family. This kind of adoption sometimes is called a relative adoption. A stepparent who is responsible for providing the care, love, discipline, and guidance for the children of his or her spouse may formalize the relationship by adopting the stepchildren. As with any adoption, this can happen only if both natural parents agree.

In California, it is possible for an adult to be adopted by another, older adult. Generally, parental consent is not required and there is no requirement of a study or report, unless a court orders such information in special cases.


Adoptions is located in Department 36 at the Juvenile Division location.


Normal window hours are 8 AM to 3 PM

Court hours are typically Thursdays from 8:30 AM to 8:45 AM.


Current fee assessed through this department is:

  • Fees for Adoption is $20.00.


Forms typically used in this department can be accessed through the California Courts website.

Local Procedures

Once an adoption has been filed, a referral to the investigating agency for a report and recommendation will be made. The court date will then be set.

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