Another common form of adoption is when a relative adopts their younger relative. We see a lot of aunts or uncles adopting their niece or nephew, or grandparents adopting their grandchildren. At your first meeting, the attorney will go over the questionnaire sent to you and that will help our office fill out the initial form called the Adoption Request. This initiates the adoption process with the court. This will also alert the state to an adoption taking place and a case worker will be assigned to you. There will need to be a post placement home study done and there is a fee with this that would be paid to the state. There is a statutory six month waiting period in which this home study/post placement visits process takes place. Within those six months, the birth parents rights will be taken care of as well as a post placement home study, assuming the adopting parents do not have a home study in place already. At the end of the home study process there will be a final report from the social worker given to the court. At that time, we are then able to request a final hearing date.
One of the final questions we get asked when discussing adoption is what happens with the child’s birth certificate? Is a new one issued? Does the original birth certificate attach to any newly issued certificate? Does the birth certificate mention adoption?
Upon the finalization of the adoption a new birth certificate is issued for the adopted child. California (or the issuing state) will file a form with the Department of Health and Vital Records. The form is most often completed by the adoption agency, if applicable, or our law office. The form is called the “Court Report of Adoption” or “VS44" and is coupled with the filed Adoption Order then sent to Sacramento for the new birth certificate to be issued. The newly issued birth certificate will show the adoptive parents as the parents of the child on the birth certificate. The original birth certificate is sealed and can only be accessed with a subsequent court order by an interested party. There is no mention or indication of adoption on the newly issued birth certificate. In this regard, the new birth certificate becomes the original birth certificate. This process can take anywhere from 9 months to one year after the adoption is finalized.
In the last blog we discussed how to get the adoption process started. Next, what happens after the birth of the baby? Assuming a homestudy was completed prior to placement and the birthmother signs her relinquishments with an Adoption Service Provider or attorney, there is a six month waiting period before you can finalize the adoption.
Over the next six months after the Adoption Request is filed, a county assigned social worker will visit your home several times to conduct interviews and ensure the baby is adjusting to life in your home and that you are adjusting to having a baby in your home. These are called “post placement supervision” visits. Additionally, during this time any termination of parental rights is enacted, whether the birth parent is known or unknown. Once the California statutory six month waiting period is up, the social worker will write a final report recommending the adoption be approved. The report is submitted to the court and at that time we are able to request a final hearing date.
For several reasons, this time frame can be extended. Notably, it is common for hearings to be set months after the request for the final hearing is filed, depending on the availability of the courts calendar. Once the final hearing occurs the adoption is finalized! Afterwards there is just the matter of a social security card and a new birth certificate, more to come on this in future posts.
We get asked a lot by people interested in adoption where and how to even begin the process. This is an exciting time for your family to be choosing adoption to expand and grow your legacy. The first thing we would suggest is to get your homestudy set up. A homestudy is required in nearly all types of adoptions and is an in-depth look at your family’s life and home to ensure that you are capable and fit to be parents. Your social worker will conduct interviews with you, your spouse and any other members in your home. He or she will perform a home inspection, help you get state and federal criminal background checks, and review your financial and medical information. During this time you can start building your “family profile”. Aplacing parent is encouraged to consider what criteria, values, and beliefs they would like in a family when thinking of placing a child for adoption. This profile is what is used for birthmothers to look through as they decide on a family for their child. Some offices, like ours, have both online profiles and physical folders with a Dear Birthmother letter, and pictures showcasing your life and values. We have excellent examples in our Adoptive Parent Profiles section of this website. Once you are matched with a birthmother the next process begins as explained in our other blogs to come.