“Can I adopt my relative in California?” People ask this question more than you might expect. Perhaps you want to serve as an adoptive parent to a niece, nephew, grandchild, or cousin whose birth parents can’t do the job for whatever reason. If the process seems intimidating and you aren’t sure how to do it, read on!

For whatever reason you seek to opt for relative adoption, understanding California’s laws on who you can adopt, how you can adopt, and if you can adopt can ensure a hassle-free process. Here is a concise guide to help put light on how relative adoption works in California.

What Is Relative Adoption in California?

Taking up the parental role for any of your family members who aren’t your actual children is referred to as kinship adoption or relative adoption. Your adoptee can be a sibling, cousin, or nephew who lacks a proper functioning parent, for instance.

In many cases, becoming an adoptive family through kinship adoption is easier than adopting a foster child from foster care or seeking an independent adoption. After all, your relative (the adoptee) has probably already spent time with you. You may have already cozied up to parenting duties and simply want to make the adoptive placement away from the biological parent official. There are also cases where parents might be asked to relinquish their parental rights to you. You can do this via relative adoption.

Reasons for Kinship Adoption in California

For you to adopt a family member, the parents or guardians have to be incapable of fending for the adoptee. Here are some instances in which you can request an adoption hearing:

  • Parent’s incarceration
  • Serious Illness (if the parent is plagued with a terminal disease and is incapable of providing for their kids)
  • Physically, financially, and emotionally available parents
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Parent’s death

Perhaps both or one of your relative’s parents is alive. If so, you have to seek formal consent from the legal parent, or the court will relinquish the parental rights to you directly. Aside from the reason listed above, you will need to meet specific requirements before adopting an eligible child.

Why Bother to Officially Adopt Your Relative?

Perhaps you already have the child/relative in your care, and kinship adoption looks like an unnecessary look of stress. This is especially true if you and the relative have settled well in the informal setup. Nevertheless, several reasons exist why you have to legally adopt the child in California for your situation to become a permanent plan. Here are some of them:

  • The relative stands to gain from your insurance and social security if you follow an official adoption plan. Also, they would be able to inherit from you.
  • You can complete necessary tasks adoptive and natural parents take care of, like school enrollment, school pickup, and applying for documents like a permanent resident visa. Without adoption laws on your side, you’ll need to get a signed permit from their biological parents for every little task.
  • You won’t need signed permission to do things like getting access to the child’s medical record.
  • An official adoption helps seal the bond between you and your relative on the parent-to-child level.

What are the Requirements For Relative Adoption in California? 

can i adopt my relative in california

Before California’s government can approve your plea for adoption, you must meet certain requirements. These requirements are as follows:

  • You have to be a citizen of California.
  • You have to have a residential place (owned or rented) where the child can live
  • You must be able to provide for the dependent children you want to adopt. The provision includes their emotional, physical, and financial needs.
  • You have to be old enough. Usually, California’s law states that you are at least ten years older than your adoptee. If you want to adopt a family member, however, you must be at least 18 years old. For example, you can file an adoption petition for a minor sibling from your unsafe parent’s home as soon as you reach adulthood.
  • If you work in a full-time job, you have to highlight how you’ll arrange for care for adoptees when you are away.

Although your marital status doesn’t affect the process, if you are married, your spouse also has to adopt your family member.

Above are just some requirements. For a comprehensive list, see the requirements on the CA.gov adoption page.

How Can I Adopt My Relative in California?

Family adoption is way simpler than basically any other type of adoption. You probably won’t need to work with pay-for-adoption services from a licensed adoption agency, attend interviews with foster parents, or pay for the biological parent’s medical costs like with an infant independent adoption. Several steps that would apply to domestic adoption are also ignored, making things more straightforward.

Note that if your adoptee is old enough to give consent in California (12 and older), their choice is considered. Hence, the child’s refusal can slow, if not stop, the whole process. It’s a good idea to talk to the child and make sure they’re on board before proceeding.

The Basic Kinship Adoption Process

Although you do get to skip some steps in a kinship adoption, there are still some unavoidable steps for gaining parental rights. The process often goes thus:

  • You seek consent from the child’s parent (if they are still alive), and/or the court relinquishes the biological parental rights to you.
  • You send a petition to the concerned court on adopting your extended family member.
  • You submit the documents with your adoption application package and complete the home study connected with this process. This step helps to verify that you are ready to adopt the child and are able to provide their basic requirements/shoulder financial responsibility.
  • The court places the child in your care, and the post-placement supervision begins.
  • After a set period of time (usually several months), you attend a hearing. In this hearing and gain full parental rights as per adoption laws in your area.

How Much Does Relative Adoption Cost?

Just as the steps and procedures leading to kinship adoption differ from other adoption forms, so does its pricing. The kinship adoption fee is a sum of $4,500. Services such as post-placement reports, submitting a petition, processing, and home study, all are what form the cost. That might sound like a lot, but it’s significantly less than other types of adoption, especially those involving a private adoption agency or overseas children.

Can’t pay that much from your personal income? Don’t worry; low-income families in California can get financial assistance and pay way less. In California, low-income families pay a sum of $500. However, the court has to investigate their needs and income before approving the reduced amount for adoption proceedings.

For interstate and international adoption, fees tend to increase. If your case might get complicated because of interstate or international law as you try to adopt an overseas child, you may want to consult with adoption service providers or use A People’s Choice to help you with paperwork.

Do You Need an Attorney for Kinship Adoption?

A lawyer is not compulsory for you to become an adoptive parent. However, you likely do need some legal assistance.

Because you’re not working through agency adoptions, you’re missing a party that would automatically supply you with updated information and takes your hands through the process of adopting. If you don’t want to pay for a lawyer, you can use a legal document preparation service like A People’s Choice.

Can I Adopt my Relative in California? Yes, With A People’s Choice!

can i adopt my relative in california

It helps to approach relative adoption with maximum scrutiny, as with every legal process.  Incorporating a reliable legal document provider could be the step you need to take to ensure you get everything right without having to hire a lawyer.

Just imagine having a team walk you through the process of adopting, be it your brother or niece, at an affordable price. A People’s Choice can do that. We are the resource families need to complete adoption paperwork, including kinship adoptions, agency adoptions, adoption of foreign-born children, and more.

By helping you with every legal document you need to become an adoptive parent and shoulder legal parental rights, A People’s Choice can avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes as you fill out your adoption package. Ensured hassle-free, stress-free, and affordable adoption by contacting us at 800-747-2780.