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Who is Able to Adopt in California?

A little girl holding a drawing she made of her family

Many people consider adoption, but only a small percentage will actually adopt a child. Adoption is a complex legal agreement, but it can be easier to understand if taken piece by piece. An easy place to start might be: Who can adopt (and be adopted) in California?

Who Can Be Adopted?

Almost anyone can be adopted in California. Most adoptions are of children designated by the state as “legally free to adopt”. This distinction specifies that a child is considered a ward of the state. Around 50% of adoptions are of kids 5 years old and younger. The average age of a child in foster care waiting for adoption is around 8 years old and many older children do get adopted. However, once a child is 12 years old or older, they must consent to be adopted. You may have seen heart-warming videos of teenagers giving adoption papers to their step-parent as a gift and the need for the child’s consent is the reason why they must start that process.

Even adults can be adopted in California. Beyond emotional or sentimental needs, this form of adoption may be used by older people to ensure their inheritance is given to the person they wish to have it when they pass away.

Who Can Adopt?

The main unique restriction for California adoptions is that the person adopting must be at least 10 years older than the person they’re adopting. There are exceptions for family members, such as a sibling or step-parent, aunt or uncle, or a first cousin. Single people can adopt in California, but if you are married, you cannot adopt a child on your own. You need the consent of your partner. Adoptions are also allowed by both single and married LGBT people in California, but not every state permits LGBT adoption.

There may be additional restrictions for international adoptions as each country has its own rules about who can adopt with some countries outright banning adoption by foreigners. Adoption is a legal transfer of parental rights and almost always involves hearings before a judge to ensure that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. Many of these cases do end in a judge’s decision, so while someone may not be expressly forbidden from adoption that doesn’t mean the process will be straight forward. If you are serious about adoption, it is best to seek professional advice because every family situation will be different.

If you need professional, expert advice about adoption, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Chung & Ignacio at (909) 726-7112.