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Stepparent Adoption

Introduction to Stepparent Adoptions

A Stepparent Adoption is when the spouse of a child's custodial parent adopts that child. The Department of Social Services prefers that the stepparent be married to the other parent at least one year before adoption.

The stepparent and custodial parent will fill out court forms, and there will be a hearing in Court. The child to be adopted, the custodial parent who lives with the child, and the adopting stepparent, must all go to the hearing.

Complete the Forms

Fill out Form Adopt-200, ICWA 010A Indian Child Inquiry Attachment, and ICWA 020 Parental Notification of Indian Status and take the original and two copies to the Superior Court in your county. Submit your adoption forms in the Family Law Clerk’s Office of the Superior Court, located at the Lamoreaux Justice Center Room 702. The Court’s locations page has the courthouse location, phone number and office hours.

You have to pay a filing fee for each child you want to adopt, and a fee for the investigation performed by Probate Court Services. Look for the "Petition for adoption" fee and the “Stepparent investigation” fee in the Family Law Fees section of the local fee schedule. You can pay by cash or check. Make your check payable to “Clerk of the Court.”

Get Consent

Get consent from the biological parent who is giving up custody of the child. You can get the consent forms from the Stepparent Adoption Investigator at Social Services: (714) 704-8000.

If the other parent doesn’t want to sign a consent form, Termination of Parental Rights may be an option.

Adoption Investigation

Once an adoption request has been filed, the court’s Probate Court Services Department will be notified and begin the investigation process. The petitioner will be sent forms to complete and a list of documents the petitioner will need to obtain. Once you have gathered the required documents, you will need to schedule an appointment to have your documents reviewed. If you have obtained all of the necessary documents, your case will then be ready to investigate. When an investigator is available, one will be assigned. The investigator will interview the petitioner, the spouse or partner, and the child(ren). The investigator will check law enforcement records, child abuse registry records and will verify the petitioner's employment. It will also be necessary to obtain references from three non-related individuals. The results of the investigation will be given to the Court in a report. The investigator will either recommend for or against the adoption.

Get a Hearing Date

When you submit your documents, please include a Memorandum for Setting for Hearing L-0124. You will receive notice in the mail of when your hearing is scheduled. For hearing schedule information please see the Family Law Calendar web page.

If the other parent did not give up his/her rights or if the Court has not ended his/her rights, you must file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights first before you schedule your adoption hearing.

If you can’t locate the other parent and he is a presumed father, you must publish the notice in a newspaper. Talk to a lawyer for help with this process. You can find a lawyer from the resource list of the Self Help’s website.

What to Provide to the Court Before Your Hearing

Bring the following completed forms to the Court at least one week prior to your court date. NOTE: Do not sign these documents


Bring the child you are adopting, a camera (if you want a photo of you and your child with the judge), and any friends and relatives you want to have with you.

If you are adopting a stepchild, the child, natural parent and stepparent must come to the hearing.

Be sure to bring the Court Report of Adoption VS-44 to amend the adopted person’s birth certificate with the California Department of Health Services.

What to Expect After the Hearing

All documents will be filed with the Court, and you will receive a copy of the adoption order for free. The amended birth certificate will be mailed to you by the California Department of Health Services.

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