What You Need To Know About Adoption In California
In order to adopt a child as a Stepparent or Domestic Partner, it's imperative to ensure all your responsibilities are met, and in order. The process is greatly simplified if the other Birth Parent consents readily enough in writing, but consider what happens if the other parent is uncooperative or nowhere to be found.
Tough still - what if the identity of the other parent is unknown? The birth parent is generally accepted to be either the biological parent or the other parent when the couple has had the child legally through donor artificial insemination.
The courts place high value on the biological rights of the birth parent, and are hesitant to dismiss their rights or claim without serious prudence. Seeking to adopt a partner's child, in effect, requests the courts to legally end the parental rights of the child's other birth parent. You are required to follow due procedure before the judge will fully consider your request in court. It must be shown that the parent in question knows about the application, and has the chance to present their side of the matter in court.
BIRTH PARENT: DECEASED
If the other birth parent is deceased, you must tell the judge so in the adoption request, and at the court hearing. You will also be required to provide sufficient proof, such as a certified copy of the death certificate.
BIRTH PARENT: WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN
In your heart, it may appear to be a justifiable request for adoption if the other parent has played little, if any, part in the raising of your child, and had long moved on. It may be years since you've last seen or heard from them, and you haven't kept in contact. While it may feel as though you have obvious moral grounds for being granted the adoption, the courts haven't the independence to award verdicts strictly based on personal compassion. They too are bound by the laws which require them to protect the natural parent's rights as wholly and legally possible. In order for the courts to consider termination of the birth parent's rights to the child without them present, you will be required to prove you've exhausted all means trying to locate them. You will need to keep close organized track of all efforts, including dates, times, and full details of the results.
BIRTH PARENT: PERSON UNKNOWN
If the birth was through the result of artificial insemination, by an anonymous donor, you may be required to provide confirming documentation from the doctor in charge at the time, and/or from the sperm bank before the judge. Even if your name is the only parent listed on the birth certificate, perhaps because you honestly don't know who the other birth parent was; the courts may well have to dismiss your application for adoption. The parent must be identified, and served notice. Likewise if the child was from a known sperm donor and their rights weren't ended legally: either party could potentially be justified as the birth parent, and have the adoption cancelled. They could also be granted full parental rights, and battle for claim over your child.
HELP CUT DOWN THE RISKS
The last thing you want is for the courts to have no option except to dismiss your application because you've missed a step taking shortcuts. It's always wise to consult with a licensed California attorney, specializing in family law and adoptions. The tasks and responsibilities may seem huge on your shoulders, but keep your target goal at the forefront of your mind - Take special care to make sure you meet all the court requirements, and you're a step closer to the successful adoption. Your child's well-being is worth all your hard work.
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