Completing Intercountry Adoptions Not Finalized Abroad - California

Date: May 2019

Requirements for Completing the Adoption

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8527; 8903; 8911; 8912; 8612; 8614

An 'intercountry adoption' is the adoption of a foreign-born child for whom Federal law makes a special immigration visa available. Intercountry adoption includes completion of the adoption in the child's native country or completion of the adoption in this State.

For each intercountry adoption finalized in this State, the licensed adoption agency shall assume all responsibilities for the child, including care, custody, and control, as if the child had been relinquished for adoption in this State from the time the child left the child's native country.

If the child's native country requires and has given full guardianship to the prospective adoptive parents, the prospective adoptive parents shall assume all responsibilities for the child, including care, custody, control, and financial support.

As a condition of placement, the prospective adoptive parents shall file a petition to adopt the child under § 8912 within 30 days of placement.

An international adoption request may be filed by a resident of this State in a county authorized by § 8609.5. The court clerk shall immediately notify the State Department of Social Services at Sacramento in writing of the pendency of the proceeding and of any subsequent action taken.

The caption of the adoption petition shall contain the names of the petitioners but not the child's name. The petition shall state the child's sex and date of birth. The name the child had before adoption shall appear in the joinder signed by the licensed adoption agency.

If the child is the subject of a guardianship petition, the adoption petition shall so state and shall include the caption and docket number or have attached a copy of the letters of the guardianship or temporary guardianship. The petitioners shall notify the court of any petition for guardianship or temporary guardianship filed after the adoption petition. The guardianship proceeding shall be consolidated with the adoption proceeding.

The order of adoption shall contain the child's adopted name but not the name the child had before adoption.

The court shall examine all persons appearing before it pursuant to this part. The examination of each person shall be conducted separately but within the physical presence of every other person, unless the court, in its discretion, orders otherwise. The prospective adoptive parent or parents shall execute and acknowledge an agreement in writing that the child will be treated in all respects as their lawful child.

If satisfied that the interests of the child will be promoted by the adoption, the court may make and enter an order of adoption of the child by the prospective adoptive parent or parents.

Upon the request of the adoptive parents or the adopted child, a clerk of the superior court may issue a certificate of adoption that states the date and place of adoption, the birth date of the child, the names of the adoptive parents, and the name the child has taken. Unless the child has been adopted by a stepparent or by a relative, as defined in § 8616.5(c), the certificate shall not state the name of the birth parents of the child.

Required Evidence/Documentation

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8912; 8914; Rules of Court, Rule 5.492

If the petitioner has entered into a postadoption contact agreement with the birth parent, as set forth in § 8616.5, the agreement, signed by the participating parties, shall be attached to and filed with the petition for adoption.

If the licensed adoption agency is a party to or joins in the adoption petition, it shall submit a full report of the facts of the case to the court. The department also may submit a report.

In court rules: A U.S. resident who plans to adopt in California a child resident in a foreign country that is party to the Hague Adoption Convention must provide to the California court the required proof, in the form of a Hague Custody Declaration, that all required Hague Adoption Convention findings have been made by the child's country of residence.

Background Studies

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8908; 8909

A licensed adoption agency shall require each person filing an application for adoption to be fingerprinted and shall secure from an appropriate law enforcement agency any criminal record of that person to determine if the person has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation. The criminal record, if any, shall be taken into consideration when evaluating the prospective adoptive parent, and an assessment of the effects of any criminal history on the ability of the prospective adoptive parent to provide adequate and proper care and guidance to the child shall be included in the report to the court.

A licensed adoption agency shall not give final approval for an adoptive placement in any home in which the prospective adoptive parent, or any adult living in the prospective adoptive home, has a felony conviction for either of the following:

  • Any felony conviction for child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; crimes against a child, including child pornography; or for a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault and battery
  • A felony conviction that occurred within the last 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug- or alcohol-related offense

An agency may not place a child for adoption unless a written report on the child's medical background and, if available, the medical background of the child's birth parents so far as ascertainable, has been submitted to the prospective adoptive parents and they have acknowledged in writing the receipt of the report.

The report on the child's background shall contain all known diagnostic information, including current medical reports on the child, psychological evaluations, and scholastic information, as well as all known information regarding the child's developmental history and family life.

Placement Supervision and Reporting

Citation: Fam. Code § 8902

For intercountry adoptions that will be finalized in this State, the licensed adoption agency shall provide all of the following services:

  • Assessment of the suitability of the applicant's home
  • Placement of the foreign-born child in an approved home
  • Postplacement supervision
  • Submission to the court of a report on the intercountry adoptive placement with a recommendation regarding the granting of the petition
  • Services to applicants seeking to adopt related children living in foreign countries

Effect of Adoption Decree on Parental Rights

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 8616; 8617

After adoption, the adopted child and the adoptive parents shall sustain toward each other the legal relationship of parent and child and have all the rights and are subject to all the duties of that relationship.

The existing parent or parents of an adopted child are, from the time of the adoption, relieved of all parental duties toward, and all responsibility for, the adopted child and have no right over the child.

Obtaining a U.S. Birth Certificate

Citation: Hlth. & Safety Code §§ 102695; 102645

A court report of adoption received from any court of record in this State, wherein the birth occurred outside the United States, the territories of the United States, or Canada shall constitute a court-ordered delayed registration of birth, provided that the court report contains a statement of the date and place of birth of the child.

The new birth certificate shall bear the name of the child as shown in the report of adoption, the names and ages of his or her adopting parents, and the date and place of birth, and no reference shall be made in the new birth certificate to the adoption of the child. The new certificate shall be identical with a birth certificate registered for the birth of a child of natural parents, except, when requested by the adopting parents, the new birth certificate shall not include the specific name and address of the hospital or other facility where the birth occurred, the color and race of the parents, or both.