California Foster Care Adoption Requirements

Just like with any adoption process, you must fulfill certain requirements during the foster care adoption process to welcome a child into your family. We'll help you understand these requirements and complete your adoption.

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These requirements will not only ensure that adoption is the best choice for your family but also that you can provide a safe and welcoming home environment for a child in desperate need of one.

So, what exactly are the requirements for adopting a foster child in California?

Because there are three big stages in the process of adopting a foster child, there are also three different stages of qualifications for the adoption of foster children in California. When you work with FCCA, our experienced and knowledgeable staff will guide you through every step.  Our agency’s mission is to help connect waiting children with the families they need, which means we will support you however we can to help you meet your California foster care adoption requirements.

The best way to know whether you meet the requirements for adopting a foster child is by contacting our professionals or attending one of our free information sessions. Our staff can review your individual situation with you and help you determine whether foster care adoption is right for you.

In the meantime, you can learn more about what you need to adopt a foster child below.

Requirements for Adopting a Foster Child in CA

In general, there are three categories of requirements you must meet before you can officially adopt a child waiting in the foster care system. Remember, when you work with FCCA, an experienced staff person will guide and support you through each step.

Pre-Placement Requirements

Before you can even begin the process of adopting a foster child, you must meet the California qualifications to become a foster parent. When children are first placed into a foster home, they are not yet freed for adoption; you will be fostering them (with the intention of adopting) until at least six months have passed (usually it is 12 months or more in most cases), and their biological parents’ rights have been terminated.

Every hopeful foster and foster-to-adoptive parent must be approved as a Resource Family, which is California’s new official term for “foster home.” To obtain this approval, you must complete extensive training, submit to background checks, provide verification of employment and other facts, and undergo home visits and social worker interviews with you and all other household members. This is known as the adoption home study.

As part of your adoption process, FCCA provides classes addressing the requirements for adoption of a foster child and the steps you can expect. Our staff will work closely with you to complete all qualifications for the adoption of foster children into your home. During this process, you will also fill out a “child desired” form, upon which your social worker will base your home study report.

Post-Placement Requirements

Once your home study is approved and you have received a placement, there are a few more California foster care adoption requirements to meet. Following the time when a child is placed with you, your FCCA social worker and the child’s county social worker will ensure that all in your household are adjusting well to this new dynamic. Creating and maintaining a positive environment and relationship after placement is the most important requirement for successfully finalizing your adoption later.

After your child is placed with you, you can expect monthly visits from both your FCCA social worker and the county social worker overseeing your placement. During these visits, the social workers will interview your child privately to confirm a positive adjustment. Your FCCA social worker will also review the foster care certification checklist to confirm that your home remains in compliance with state foster care regulations.

But these visits aren’t all about meeting qualifications for the adoption of foster children in California. They are also a chance for your FCCA social worker to provide support and resources as you and your family adjust to your new addition (and vice versa). Your social worker wants your adoption to succeed, so we will do all we can to help you.

Finalization Requirements

If a placement is deemed in the best interest of all involved, and you have met all the prior requirements for adopting a foster child, your social worker will start preparing for your finalization hearing. This can only take place at least six months after your child was placed with you and after his or her legal parents’ rights have been terminated. In reality, for most cases, this will be 12-18 months after the placement.

FCCA will assist with your entire finalization process for you at no extra cost. Our in-house legal staff will prepare and file your necessary adoption paperwork with your local court. Once your hearing date has been set, you simply appear at the scheduled date and time at the courthouse with your child. Finalization is a fairly simple procedure. You will be sworn in before the judge, who may ask you some questions. Your final decree of adoption will be issued, and the judge usually welcomes pictures with your newly-expanded family. At that point, your foster care adoption in California will be complete.


While the requirements for adopting a foster child in California are fairly straightforward, you cannot complete them without the assistance of an experienced adoption professional. Let FCCA help you through your foster care adoption journey; contact us today or attend one of our information sessions to get started.