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Do I need an attorney to adopt my friend's child in California?

Adoptions that occur between birth and adoptive parents who already are friends are referred to as independent adoptions because they don't involve a California state agency or a private one placing the child. While some jurisdictions allow consenting parties to handle the adoption of a child via this process without using the services of an agency or even an attorney, it's not the best idea if you want to make sure that everything is done right.

One reason that you'll want to work with an attorney who regularly handles adoptions is to ensure that you remain in compliance with state law. Birth parents can't simply turn over their child for you to raise it. They must still relinquish their parental rights, and you must sign legal documents before taking a child into your house.

It's also important to use an attorney to facilitate your adoption as each jurisdiction has its own laws in place that parents must adhere to. One may only allow married heterosexual couples to adopt or individuals who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses may not be allowed to take in a child. In others, the parent may have to be a certain number of years older than their prospective son or daughter.

A Riverside attorney will also be able to outline for you what to expect before an adoption can be finalized by a judge.

Generally, the California Department of Social Services will want to have you attend several counseling sessions to make sure that you're ready for taking in your new child. They may want to perform an in-home study, run a background check on you and learn more about your financial fitness to raise a child. It's only after all of this has been done that an adoption hearing may be scheduled in front of a family court judge.

While it's admirable that you've decided to take in a child who needs a loving home, you'll need to jump through many hoops before you can bring your son or daughter home. An attorney can help guide you through this process to ensure that your rights are protected.

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