1. How long does it take to adopt and who can be adopted?
The adoption process can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year, depending upon the circumstances of the case and the results of the investigation. A child/children or an adult can be adopted, depending on specific circumstances.
2. What does it cost to file an adoption in Superior Court?
The fee for filing an adoption case in Superior Court is $20.00.
Additional fees are required for a background investigation of the adopting parties if the adoption is for a minor child. There is no additional fee charged for a background investigation if the case is filed for an adult to be adopted.
Additional Investigation Fees:
- If the adoption is done by an adoption agency or an independent adoption agency, the fee for the investigation is determined by charges set by the adoption agency.
- If the adoption is a stepparent adoption, the investigation is done by the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency (CSA) and the cost is determined by and payable to that office. For additional information please contact them at 251 E. Hackett Road, Modesto, CA. Their phone number is (209)558-2777 or (800)962-4468.
3. Who has access to the file and is it considered confidential?
Adoptions are confidential cases by law. No one other than the adopting party(ies) or their attorney of record has access to the adoption file and they must present valid identification to view it.
Access by any other person can be requested by submitting an application and order to the Court for consideration by a judge. The application must state the purpose for the request for access to these records. It is up to the judge to determine whether or not to grant access to the the records on file.
Please note that the Clerk's Office cannot give out information regarding adoption cases over the phone. You must be present and show valid identification in our office.
4. Will we have to go to a Court hearing?
Once the case has been initiated and all of the appropriate documents have been submitted, you may be required to appear at a hearing for termination of the parental rights of the biological parents. In addition, you must attend the hearing to finalize the adoption. The adoptive child is also required to attend the adoption hearing.
When you go to the hearing, several things will take place. The judge will review the case, question all appropriate parties and make a decision to either grant, deny or continue the matter over to another hearing date for further review. You do not necessarily need to be accompanied by an attorney - it is solely your choice as to whether or not you feel you need legal representation.
5. How long will it take to get a new birth certificate?
Once the adoption has been finalized, the adopting party will be given two certified copies of the adoption order to use until you receive the birth certificate. Once the adoption order is processed by the Court, a Court report of adoption will be sent to the State Registrar's Office in Sacramento, CA. The birth certificate is sent from the State and can take up to three to nine months to be processed after their office receives it from the Court.
6. Who takes care of requesting that the court terminate parental rights?
Termination of parental rights is usually addressed by the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency (for stepparent adoptions) or by the adoption agency. These agencies contact the biological parents to request their consent to the adoption.
If the biological parents do not give their consent to the adoption, their parental rights must be terminated by the Court at a formal hearing before an adoption can proceed. The biological parents must be given notice of the hearing on the issue of termination of parental rights.
The petition for termination of parental rights can also be initiated by an individual requesting the adoption.
7. What is an adoption?
An adoption is the legal process whereby the natural parents' rights and duties towards the child are terminated by the Court and are given to adoptive parents.
8. Where can I get additional information on adoptions?
The following websites offer additional information on the adoption process. You may need to copy and paste these links into your browser:
California Courts Self Help Center - Families and Children: Adoption
California Association of Adoption Agencies
California Adoption Information
California Department of Social Services, Adoption Program Information
9. What happens when I go to court?
At the time of your hearing several things may take place. The judge will review the case, question all appropriate parties and make a decision to either grant a petition or order or make an order for the Court to continue the matter over to another hearing date for further review. You do not necessarily need to be accompanied by an attorney - this is solely your choice whether or not you feel you need legal representation.
10. Who takes care of a Termination of Parental Rights?
Usually this is done by the Stanislaus County Community Services Agency (for stepparent adoptions) or by the adopting agency. These agencies contact the biological parents. If their consent is not given to the adoption their parental rights must be terminated by court order via noticed hearing for the adoption to proceed. This petition for termination of parental rights can also be initiated by the individual party.
11. Where can I get additional information or assistance?
If you are in need of an attorney, Lawyers Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding an attorney. Their telephone number is (209)571-5727.
There are books available on this subject at the public library. The County Library is located at 1500 I Street, Modesto, CA.
Stanislaus County Law Library is located at 1300 K Street, Modesto, CA.
Additional information is available through the Judicial Council Online Self-Help website at: