What are the California Adoption Requirements?

If you’re considering adoption in California, congratulations — you are one step closer to becoming the family that you’ve always dreamed of! Before you start your adoption journey, however, it’s important to understand the adoption requirements in California to be sure you will be able to complete this process.

Fortunately, the adoption professionals at FCCA can explain these requirements for adoption to you and help you determine which adoption process is best for your individual situation. Because each adoption process is so different, you may have different adoption requirements to meet than someone else you know who has already adopted. The best way to learn about these detailed requirements is by speaking to an experienced professional like those at FCCA.

Below are some of the common questions asked by prospective parents about the qualifications for adoption in California. Remember, each adoption is unique, so contact an adoption professional for more personalized information about whether you can adopt in your individual situation.

1. How old do you have to be to adopt in California?

As long as you are an adult, you can adopt a child in California. There is no , except that the adopting adult must be at least 10 years older than the child being adopted. Exceptions to this age gap requirement may be made if the adopting parent is a stepparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle or first cousin of the child.

2. Do you have to be married to adopt in California?

California has no marital requirements related to adoption. Single people can happily adopt children, although their single-parent status may affect their wait time for an adoption opportunity. Married stepparents can adopt their stepchildren, and unmarried domestic partners can adopt their partner’s child.

Marital requirements do vary for international adoptions, since those eligibility requirements are set by the foreign country. Ask your international adoption agency which countries you will be eligible to adopt from if you are a single prospective adoptive parent.

3. Can LGBTQ persons adopt in California?

California prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and couples who wish to adopt. However, LGBTQ persons may face discrimination if they pursue adoption in another state or country with different laws. Ask your adoption professional to explain any limitations or difficulties that might occur in such situations.

4. Can felons adopt a child in California?

All prospective adoptive parents must undergo a criminal background check before being approved to adopt (more on that below). Through the fingerprinting process, any past criminal convictions will be revealed to adoption professionals. Whether those convictions will prevent you from adopting will depend upon the type of crime you’ve committed, your sentencing and your history. Certain felonies are an absolute bar to adoption, and other convictions (misdemeanor and felony) may be subject to the agency’s discretion. Speak to your adoption professional to find out whether you will meet the .

5. What do I need to adopt a child in California?

Every adoption process is different, and the with each process will also be different. Contacting an adoption professional is one of the best ways to learn more about the based on the process you’re considering.

In California, all prospective adoptive parents must complete certain background checks and screenings, including a fingerprint-based state and federal background check and a Child Abuse Central Index check. Your adoption professional will provide you with the forms and instructions to receive the necessary clearances, as these cannot be completed on your own but through the proper entity for the type of adoption you are pursuing.

Prospective adoptive parents must also obtain an approved home study investigation before a child can be placed in their home. As part of your work with FCCA, you will meet with a trained social worker who will interview you, visit your home and interview all other household residents to ensure that you are prepared to bring an adopted child into your family. Your home study requirements may vary based on the adoption process that you choose to pursue.

6. What should I do before starting the adoption process in California?

If you’re considering growing your family through adoption, the first is doing your research — and that involves speaking to an experienced adoption professional like the ones at FCCA. They can give you a better idea of what to expect from an adoption moving forward, as well as which steps to take before starting the process. Many aspects of an adoption are time-sensitive, so it’s best not to complete any paperwork or clearances until you have committed to an adoption process with a given professional.

In addition to speaking with an adoption professional, prospective adoptive parents should also do research on their own. This means learning about the different adoption processes, including their specific adoption requirements and costs, to find the one that’s best for them.

Perhaps one of the most important steps, however, is making sure that you are fully committed to the idea of adoption before moving forward. Adoption can be complicated and involve many emotional ups and downs, and prospective parents should be prepared for these challenges with a deep level of commitment. If you have a spouse, both of you should be equally excited for adoption and ready to move forward with a new chapter in your life. In particular, going from struggling with infertility to pursuing adoption can be a difficult transition. Prospective parents should grieve their infertility losses before starting a new family-building process. You might consider talking to an infertility counselor or a similar professional to make sure you’re ready for this new step.


These are just a few of the questions prospective adoptive parents have about the requirements to adopt in California. It’s normal if you have specific questions that aren’t answered here. We encourage you to contact FCCA’s adoption professionals to learn more about the California adoption requirements for different adoption programs. From there, our professionals can help you select the adoption process that best meets your personal situation and needs.

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