How FCCA Can Help You Complete Your Independent Adoption
When a family chooses domestic infant adoption in California, they have two choices: agency or independent adoption.
In an independent adoption, the placing parent makes a personal selection of the adoptive family and transfers legal and physical custody directly to the adoptive parents, with no agency involved. “Personal selection” means that the placing parent must receiver certain identifying information about the adoptive parents, including their full legal names, ages, and more.
While independent adoption is often considered “adoption without an agency,” adoptive families still need several important professional services throughout the process. FCCA provides Adoption Service Provider, home study, ICPC, post-placement and finalization services for independent adoptions in California.
If you are looking for an Adoption Service Provider to help you complete your adoption, read on to learn more about our independent adoption process and services.
Independent Adoption with FCCA
Most independent adoptions are managed by an adoption attorney in cooperation with an Adoption Service Provider (ASP). An ASP is a private social worker or a licensed adoption agency (such as FCCA) that is responsible for providing certain services throughout the independent adoption process.
When serving as an ASP, FCCA can provide the following services:
- Birth parent advisement: FCCA will advise the placing parents of their legal rights and options in accordance with the requirements of California law. This advisement must happen at least ten days prior to the signature of the Independent Adoption Placement Agreement (commonly called the “consent” to the adoption).
- Witness the consent: The ASP will witness the signatures on the consent.
- Approve ICPC for interstate adoptions: FCCA is authorized by California law to approve ICPC placements for children being sent from or coming into the State of California for the purpose of adoption.
IF FCCA has not served as the ASP, then the agency can provide the following services to the adoptive family:
- Home study services: A California adoptive family is not required to have an approved home study or even cleared fingerprints prior to accepting an independent adoption placement of a California child. The law permits the adoptive family to obtain the home study and fingerprint clearances after the placement by applying to the local District Office of the Department of Social Services (or the local county adoption agency for residents of San Diego County, Los Angeles County, or Alameda County). However, many adoptive families prefer to obtain a pre-placement home study from a licensed private agency. This pre-approval gives extra reassurance to the placing parents that the adoptive home is a good home. It can also save the adoptive family a significant amount of money, since private agency home studies for independent adoptions are generally less expensive than those completed by the state or county.
- Post-placement and finalization services: Whether you choose to obtain a home study before or after the independent placement has been made, in every case, a state or county worker will visit you and the child after placement. That worker will prepare and file a report to the court within 180 days of filing the adoption petition. Once the report has been filed with the court, FCCA can assist you with finalizing the adoption. You will receive a new birth certificate for the child anywhere from six to eighteen months after the finalization hearing.
- Approve ICPC for interstate adoptions: The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) governs the transfer of children from one state to another for the purpose of adoption. Approval requires the filing of certain forms and supporting documentation, including the adoptive family’s approved home study, the child’s medical records, ICWA compliance forms, and others. FCCA assists many families and agencies across the U.S. with the preparation of ICPC packets, and is authorized by California law to approve ICPC placements for children being sent from or coming into the State of California for the purpose of adoption.
Considerations for Families Pursuing Independent Adoption
Independent adoption is a form of private infant adoption, and it shares several similarities with private infant adoption through an agency. However, the process does differ in several key ways. Before deciding whether to pursue agency or independent infant adoption, consider the following:
- Independent adoptions must be open. In California, birth parents and adoptive parents in an independent adoption must exchange personally identifying information, including full names, and even full addresses upon request. In agency adoption, you may have an open, semi-open or closed adoption, depending on the expectant mother’s wishes.
- You will not receive the same pre-adoption education. Families who adopt independently generally do not receive the same in-depth adoption education and preparation as families who work through an adoption agency.
- Independent adoption costs may be lower. This can vary depending on your situation; relative adoptions are almost always less expensive if completed as independent adoption. Be sure to make a complete comparison of all costs, and of the benefits that come with each type of service. Cheaper is not always better.
- Independent adoption has a longer revocation period, unless the birth mother signs a Waiver of the Right to Revoke. In an agency adoption, the relinquishment becomes final when the Department issues a written acknowledgment or 10 days after signing, whichever occurs first. In independent adoption, the consent becomes final 30 days after signing. In either case, the birth mother may choose to sing a Waiver of the Right to Revoke, in which case her consent or relinquishment becomes irrevocable at the close of the next business day.
There are many factors to consider when deciding between agency and independent adoption in California, but the most important is your family’s individual circumstances and needs.
To learn more about FCCA’s agency and independent adoption services, please contact us to schedule a free consultation, or attend one of our free, monthly adoption information sessions.