Welcome to the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Independent Adoption Program. Creating or expanding your family through adoption is an enriching and rewarding experience. Each year, hundreds of people, from all walks of life adopt through our agency. If you are already considering adoption or just want some more information about what is entailed in an adoption, please feel free to explore our site.
We are designated by the California Department of Social Services to help you through the adoption process. Our staff is comprised of adoption professionals who are experienced with independent adoptions, and will work with you in completing an adoption home study. This involves evaluating the suitability of the adopting parent(s), the adjustment of the child in your home and the circumstances of placement. We will provide information about each phase of the adoption in order to make this a positive experience.
What are Independent Adoptions?
An ” independent adoption” is an adoption in which the birth parent selects the family for the child and places the child directly with the selected family. The act of selection by the birth parent(s) is based on the personal knowledge of the birth parent(s) regarding the prospective adoptive family. DCFS is not involved in the initial placement of children in Independent adoptions.
What We Do
- We provide information and assist families in completing the home study.
- We educate the adoptive parents and the birthparents regarding the laws pertaining to their rights in an Independent adoption.
- We assist low-income relatives and non-relative families with the home-study process.
- We ensure the safety of children and provide referrals to various community resources to strengthen families thus prevent children from entering the Dependency system.
- We assist attorneys and clients with the compliance of Interstate Compact regulations by providing assistance with the completion of the pre-placement home studies, conducting interviews with the birthparents and obtain consent to adoption if requested.
- We make a recommendation to the Court regarding finalization of the adoption.
The Adoption Home Study Process
When you or your legal representative attorney files a petition and sends a filed copy to us, a case is opened and assigned to an adoption worker who is responsible for completing the “home study”.
The study is comprised of interviews, criminal checks, employment verifications, medical reports, and references to determine, among other things, whether the prospective adoptive parents have the stability, financial security, and health to parent the child placed in their home. A medical report on the child and a report from the hospital of birth are also required.
Filing A Petition
Any adult person may file a petition to adopt a child; however, the person adopting must be at least 10 years older than the child. If the child is over 12 years old, his/her consent to adoption is also necessary.
After the petition has been filed with the Court for an Independent Adoption, a conformed copy of the petition, with the filing date and action number noted, should be forwarded immediately by the Attorney of Record or the prospective adoptive parent to the Department of Children’s Services, Adoptions Division, 3530 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, California, 90010, Attention: Independent Adoption Unit, Telephone Number (213)-351-0224 or (213)-351-0162 .
- Certified copy of the birth certificate of the child to be adopted.
- Certified copies of present marriage certificates (prospective adoptive parents and birth parents).
- All prior final divorce decrees (prospective adoptive parents and birth parents).
- A copy of military discharge.
- TB tests on anyone in the home over the age of 18.
- Verification of income.
- Death certificates of any spouse where the prior marriage did not end in divorce.
Two interviews are conducted during the home study process. Typically, the first interview will be in the office and the second will take place at your home after all of the paperwork has been completed. The interview process is our opportunity to exchange information with you and to gather the information needed to get to know you and make an assessment of your strengths, any needs and your home environment.
Consents of the Birth Parents
DCFS is responsible for obtaining the consents of the birthparents in a relative Independent adoption. Non-relatives Independent adoptions require the services of a State-licensed Adoption Service Provider (ASP). ASP’s are individual adoption practitioners in the community who you must engage to obtain consents. They also must be present at the signing of the adoptive placement papers. The law allows ASPs to charge $500 for their services.
In some situations, court action may be necessary to terminate the rights of the birthparents to release the child for adoption. The Department will advise the prospective adoptive parents and their attorney of record of the need to take appropriate legal action; it is then the responsibility of the prospective adoptive parents and their attorney to see that legal action is taken in a timely manner.
We present our recommendation to the Court at a hearing that will be scheduled by you or your legal representative to finalize the adoption. You will appear before the judge with the child to be adopted. After reviewing and approving the situation, the Court then issues an adoption decree. The State of California will issue a new birth certificate, with your name(s) as the parent(s), for those children born in California. For children born out-of-state, the adopting parents should contact that State Registrar’s office for more information.
You or your legal representative will be required by the Court to file a report of all expenditures you paid in connection with the birth, placement and adoption of the child.
To help defray some of the costs involved in funding the services we provide to complete the homestudy, the law cites that adopting families be assessed a fee of $2950. This fee is payable to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). This fee can be reduced or waived for low-income families upon verification of their income and need.
How to Contact Us
We hope the information that we have provided will help you to better understand the Independent Adoption Program. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call us at (213)-351-0224, or (213)-351-0162 Thank you.