California Adoption Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

Adopting a child can be a joyous occasion when you can celebrate expanding your family. But adoption can be legally complex process as well. State laws regarding who can be adopted, who can adopt, and how can be pretty tough to figure out. Here is a brief introduction to adoption laws in California.

State Laws

Regulations and laws regarding adoption, including who may adopt and special requirements for adoptive parents, are fairly similar among most states. California law requires prospective parents to be at least 10 years older than the adoptee and need the consent of children 12 and older, which is not too different from laws in other states. But since adoption is such a complicated (and important) process, you should probably contact an attorney for assistance.

Adoption Laws in California

Each state has different adoption laws. Below are some of the basic rules surrounding California adoption.

Code Section

Family §§8500-9340

Who May Be Adopted

Any unmarried minor child at least 10 years younger than their prospective adoptive parent or parents; any married minor or adult

Age that Child's Consent Needed

12 years and older

Who May Adopt

Any adult; must be 10 years older than child unless stepparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or first cousin and court approves

Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption?


State Agency/Court

State Department of Social Services/Superior

Statute of Limitations to Challenge

On any grounds except fraud: 1 year; fraud: 3 years

Generally speaking, any single adult or a married couple together is eligible to adopt. A stepparent is also eligible to adopt the birth child of his or her spouse. In certain states, married persons are allowed to adopt on their own if their spouse is legally incompetent or if they are legally separated from their spouse. To date, the laws in the books of most states are largely silent on the issue of adoption by gay and lesbian individuals, with only Utah and Mississippi banning same sex couples from adopting. Judges in adoption courts will normally look to the best interests of a child when making adoption decisions.

Related Resources for Adoption Laws

The standards and regulations concerning adoption can vary greatly from state-to-state, and from country-to-country. You can review some of them in FindLaw’s adoption law section and get a more general overview in our adoption section. If you would like legal assistance with your adoption case, you can schedule a consultation with an experienced adoption attorney in California.

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