Stepparent and Domestic Partner Adoptions

0200-507.35 | Revision Date: 07/01/14

Overview

This policy guide provides information on stepparent/domestic partner adoptions, including steps for completing assessments, obtaining consent, what to do when consent is withdrawn or the petitioner withdraws the petition and instructions on preparing the final court report.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Adoptions

Procedure

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Assessments

APRD CSW Responsibilities

Obtaining Consent of the Non-Custodial Parent

APRD CSW Responsibilities

Preparing the Final Court Report

APRD CSW Responsibilities

APRD SCSW Responsibilities

APRD ARA Responsibilities

Consenting Parent Withdraws Consent

APRD CSW Responsibilities

Petitioner Requests Withdrawal of Petition

APRD CSW Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Forms

Referenced Policy Guides

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 06/01/12 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan.

POLICY

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Adoptions

A stepparent or domestic partner may file a petition to adopt a child of his/her spouse/domestic partner.  The term stepparent adoption includes adoption by a domestic partner.

 

One of the following parties must investigate cases of stepparent/domestic partner adoption:

The probation officer

 

The court cannot make an order of adoption until the party who completed the investigation has filed its report and recommendation, and the court has reviewed it. Applicant assessments are not required unless ordered by the court. The Department may request the court order an applicant assessment or request an applicant assessment on its own motion.

 

The prospective adoptive parent in a stepparent/domestic partner adoption is responsible for all reasonable costs incurred in connection with the adoption, including, but not limited to, costs incurred for the investigation, up to a maximum of $700. Fees can be deferred, waived, or reduced if payment causes an economic hardship to the prospective adoptive parents, or will be detrimental to the welfare of the adopted child.

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PROCEDURE

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Assessments

Upon receipt of an inquiry from a stepparent/domestic partner, the Intake Clerk sends an intake packet consisting of the DCFS/A SP 40, Information Regarding Stepparent Adoption with attachments for the stepparent/domestic partner to complete.

APRD CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon receipt of the completed intake packet, review the DCFS/A SP 40 and attached forms and documents. The packet should include:

 

  1. Note any inconsistencies in the forms and documents so that they can be discussed with the petitioner when you meet with him/her.

 

  1. If you become aware that the child may fall under the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), notify the petitioner that he/she should consult with his/her attorney if there is one or that he/she might want to obtain one to: Explore verification of the child's Indian status.
  1. If appropriate, ensure that the ADOPT 225, Parent of Indian Child Agrees to End Parental Rights, is signed before a judge.

 

  1. Within ten (10) business days of case assignment, contact the petitioner to schedule an appointment to meet.

 

  1. Complete the following tasks during the meeting:
  1. Discuss the adoption process, including:
  1. Clarify information on the DCFS/A SP10 regarding the non-custodial parent and obtain any additional information, as needed.
  1. Interview each parent and child (age four (4) or over) individually. Gather information regarding:
  1. If informed that the child is not aware of the adoption, explore the reasons why, and address this situation in the court report.
  1. Discuss any inconsistencies in the information provided on the completed forms and documents.
  1. Provide the petitioner with a DCFS 5600, Live-Scan Criminal History Request to obtain a Live-Scan clearance.
  1. Indicate "Adoption" on the DCFS 5600.
  1. Provide directions to the appropriate location to process the fingerprints for the criminal clearance.
  1. Explain that a Juvenile Automated Index (JAI) clearance will be requested for any youth, age fourteen (14) and older residing in the home. If the CSW reasonably suspects that a child has a criminal record, the child will be required to obtain a Live-Scan clearance.
  1. Initiate JAI, and Live-Scan if applicable, for any youth, age fourteen (14) and older residing in the home.
  1. Inform the petitioner that for any adults residing in his/her home for whom there is reasonable suspicion of having a criminal record, the individual(s) will be asked to voluntarily submit to Live-Scan.

 

  1. Ask the petitioner if s/he and/or any adult residing in the home have resided in a state other than California in the past five (5) years. If so,:
  1. Contact the state(s) where the individual resided to determine if the individual is listed on that state's child abuse registry.
  1. If the state does not maintain a registry, document that fact in the Case Notes along with the date the state was contacted.
  1. If the state does maintain a registry, follow the procedures set forth by the state to obtain the individual's case record information.
  1. If information from another state's registry indicates a history of child abuse or neglect, review the facts of the case as part of the determination to approve the assessment. If the facts are not provided upon the initial request, contact the agency with the case record in that state for information about the circumstances of the abuse or neglect.
  1. Consult with the SCSW and/or County Counsel regarding any concerns or potential barriers to approval.
  1. Interview applicant/adult(s) regarding child abuse or neglect history.
  1. Document the contact with the other state's child abuse central registry and/or the Agency holding the case records in the Case Notes. Include the following:

 

  1. Initiate a CWS/CMS search on the petitioner and child to determine if s/he has any prior referrals for child abuse or neglect in California.
  1. If they s/he does, assess the circumstances surrounding his/her referrals.
  1. Print and file the CWS/CMS information in the case record.

 

  1. Provide the petitioner with a completed DCFS/A SP 11, Stepparent Adoption Fee Agreement, and obtain the signature of the petitioner.
  1. Give the petitioner a copy of the signed agreement.
  1. Collect the fee.

 

  1. Provide the custodial parent with a completed AD 2, Stepparent Adoption Consent to Adoption by Parent Retaining Custody, to sign for each child to be adopted.
  1. Obtain his/her signature and sign and date the form.
  1. Give the parent a copy of the signed consent.

 

  1. Obtain the names and addresses of three (3) references that know the petitioner.
  1. Mail the DCFS/A SP 404, Reference Questionnaire to each reference.

 

  1. Inform the prospective adoptive parent that, if it is impossible or impracticable for him/her to make an appearance in court in person, the court may waive the personal appearance of the prospective adoptive parent.

Back to Procedure

Obtaining Consent of the Non-Custodial Parent

APRD CSW Responsibilities

  1. Obtain information from the petitioner that verifies the identity of the child's mother, any presumed father(s), and any alleged natural father(s). The inquiry must include all of the following:

 

  1. After consent from the custodial parent has been obtained, if the whereabouts of the non-custodial parent are unknown, send a letter to the non-custodial parent's last known addresses, if known. Take the following actions depending on the non-custodial parent's response:

 

Non-Custodial Parent Response

Action to Take

If the parent responds to the contact letter:

  • Discuss the petitioner's request to adopt his/her child, the adoption process, and his/her right to consent or not to consent to the adoption.

If the parent agrees to give his/her consent and lives in Los Angeles County or in close vicinity:

  • Meet with the parent to complete the AD 2A/2B, Stepparent Adoption, Consent to Adoption by a Parent in or outside of California Giving Custody to Husband or Wife or Domestic Partner of Other Parent. (This meeting is usually conducted at the APRD CSW's office.)
  • Obtain his/her signature and sign and date the form. Give the non-custodial parent a copy of the signed consent.

If the parent resides outside of Los Angeles County but within California:

  • Mail the AD 2A/2B to the parent and explain that the consent must be signed in the presence of a notary public, county clerk, probation officer, qualified court investigator, or county welfare department staff member of any county in California.

If the parent agrees to give his/her consent and resides outside of California:

  • Mail the AD 2A/2B to the parent and explain that the consent must be signed before a notary or other person authorized to perform notary public services.

 

  1. If the named father matches the identity of an individual previously identified as an alleged father, complete the following:

 

Alleged Father's Response

Action to Take

If the alleged father is denying paternity or is willing to waive his right to further notice:

  • Send the AD 588, Denial of Paternity by Alleged Father – In or Out of California, or the AD 590, Waiver of Right to Further Notice of Adoption Planning (Alleged Natural Father In or Out of California), to the father as appropriate.

If the alleged father agrees to sign the consent and resides in California:

  • Provide him with the AD 2A/2B and explain that the consent must be signed before a notary or other person authorized to perform notary public services.

If the alleged father agrees to sign the consent and resides outside of California:

  • Send the AD 2A/2B to the father and explain that the consent must be signed before a notary or other person authorized to perform notary public services.

 

  1. If the non-custodial parent refuses to sign a consent, complete the DCFS/A SP 9, Letter to Attorney, and send it to the petitioner's attorney alerting him/her of the situation.

 

  1. If the non-custodial parent's whereabouts are unknown, or there has been no response to the letter, complete and send the DCFS/A SP 9 to the petitioner's attorney alerting him/her of the inability to make contact with the non-custodial parent within thirty (30) calendar days (if sent to an address in the United States) or within sixty (60) calendar days (if sent to an address outside the United States).

 

  1. If the non-custodial parent contacts the CSW after the thirty (30) or sixty (60) day time period, and indicates an interest in signing a consent, and the case has been closed, obtain the consent. Notify the attorney of record of the receipt of the consent via telephone.

 

  1. If the non-custodial parent contacts the CSW after the thirty (30) or sixty (60) day time period, and indicates an interest in signing a consent, and the case has not been closed, complete and send the DCFS/A SP 9 to the petitioner's attorney informing him/her of the parent's intentions. Proceed as appropriate.

 

  1. Document efforts made to give notice of the proposed adoption to the child's mother; any presumed father(s), and any alleged natural father(s), if applicable.

Back to Procedure

Preparing the Final Court Report

APRD CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon completing the assessment and obtaining all requested documents, forms, Live-Scan results, complete the DCFS/A SP 39, Stepparent Court Report if any of the following conditions apply:

 

  1. Include the following information in the DCFS/A SP 39 report:

 

  1. Use one of the following recommendations to grant the petition:

 

Recommendation

Reason for Recommendation

Approval

  • Positive assessment
  • All parental consents are received

Conditional Approval

  • Positive assessment
  • There is a question regarding the validity of a consent or one or more. consent has not been received.
  • Conditional Approval can also be used if one of the home study documents is pending and the petitioner(s) agree to present the document at the court hearing.

Approved with Reservations

  • Adequate assessment
  • There are concerns that should be presented to the court for consideration

Denial

  • Little to no cooperation by the petitioner(s).
  • All relevant documents were not received.
  • A child age twelve (12) or older does not want to be adopted.
  • Birth parent refuses to give consent to the adoption.
  • There is an adverse situation which suggests that adoption may not be in the child's best interest.

Denial in Lieu of Dismissal

  • Little to no cooperation by the petitioner(s).
  • All relevant documents were not received.
  • This recommendation provides the attorney of record the opportunity to contest, re-file, or submit the appropriate documents to the court.

Dismissal

  • Attorney of record requests that the petition be dismissed.

 

  1. Submit the DCFS/A 39, signed consent(s), Live-Scan results, and the DCFS/A SP 11, Stepparent Adoption Fee Agreement, to the SCSW.

 

  1. After the case has been closed, direct any further questions regarding the closed case to the attorney of record or to the court.

APRD SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the DCFS/A 39, signed consent(s), Live-Scan results, the DCFSA SP 11, and all original documents.
  1. If approved and the petitioner does not have a child abuse referral or disposition, sign the DCFS/A 39 and forward all documents to the Adoption Assistant (AA).
  1. If approved and the petitioner does have a child abuse referral or disposition, sign the DCFS/A 39 and forward all documents to the ARA for review.
  1. If not approved, return documents to the CSW for corrective action.

APRD ARA Responsibilities

  1. Review the DCFS/A 39, signed consent(s), Live-Scan results, the DCFS/A SP 11, and all original documents.
  1. If approved, sign the DCFS/A 39 and forward all documents to the SCSW.
  1. If not approved, return the documents to the CSW for corrective action.

Back to Procedure

Consenting Parent Withdraws Consent

APRD CSW Responsibilities

  1. If the birth parent decides to withdraw his/her consent prior to the adoption being finalized in court, advise the birth parent of the following:

 

  1. Upon notice of the hearing, prepare a full report for the court and submit it to the court clerk, the petitioner's legal advisor, and the petitioner.

 

  1. Upon receipt of the court order, submit the case to the SCSW to be closed.

Petitioner Requests Withdrawal of Petition

If the petitioner moves to withdraw the adoption petition or to dismiss the proceeding, the court clerk will notify the Department.

APRD CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon notice of a withdrawal or dismissal, submit the case to the SCSW to be closed.

Back to Procedure

APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

ARA Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Forms

LA Kids

DCFS 5600, Live-Scan Criminal History Request

DCFS/A SP 10, Stepparent Adoption Questionnaire

DCFS/A SP 40, Information Regarding Stepparent Adoptions

Stepparent Adoption Fee Reduction or Waiver Request

VS 44, Court Report of Adoption

Hard Copy

AD 2, Stepparent Adoption, Consent to Adoption by Parent Retaining Custody

AD 2A/2B, Stepparent Adoption, Consent to Adoption by a Parent in or outside of California Giving Custody to Husband or Wife or Domestic Partner of Other Parent

AD 588, Denial of Paternity by Alleged Father – In or Out of California

AD 590, Waiver of Right to Further Notice of Adoption Planning (Alleged Natural Father In or Out of California)

ADOPT 225, Parent of Indian Child Agrees to End Parental Rights

DCFS/A SP 9, Letter to Attorney

DCFS/A SP 11, Stepparent Adoption Fee Agreement

DCFS/A SP 39, Stepparent Court Report

Birth Certificate (certified copy)

Declaration of Domestic Partnership

Marriage, Divorce, and Death Certificates (certified copy)

Referenced Policy Guides

0070-559.10, Clearances

0900-511.20, Adoption Fees

1200-500.05, Adopting and Serving Children Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Statutes

Family Code (FAM) Section 297 – Defines domestic partners and states the requirements to file a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the Secretary of State.

 

FAM Section 297.5 – Summarizes the rights of a registered domestic partner.

 

FAM Section 7663 – States, in part, that in the case of a stepparent adoption, in an effort to identify the natural father, the court shall cause inquiry to be made of the mother and any other appropriate person by one of the following: at the option of the board of supervisors, a licensed county adoption agency, the court department designated by the board of supervisors to administer the public social services program, or the county probation department. The inquiry shall include all of the following:

 

FAM Section 8613.5(a)(1)(2) – States, in part, that if the circumstances that make an appearance in person by a prospective adoptive parent impossible or impracticable are temporary in nature or a short duration, the court shall not waive the personal appearance of that prospective adoptive parent.

 

FAM Section 9000 – Summarizes the requirements for a petition to file an adoption petition.

 

FAM Section 9001 – States, in part, that the probation officer, qualified court investigator, licensed clinical social worker, licensed marriage family therapist, or, at the option of the board of supervisors, the county welfare department in the county in which the adoption proceeding is pending shall make an investigation of each case of stepparent adoption. Unless ordered by the court, no home study may be required of the petitioner's home in a stepparent adoption.

 

FAM Section 9002 – States, in part, that in a stepparent adoption, the prospective adoptive parent is liable for all reasonable costs incurred in connection with the stepparent adoption, including, but not limited to, costs incurred for the investigation required by Section 9001, up to a maximum of $700.

 

FAM Section 9003 – Summarizes the procedures for obtaining a birth parent's consent.

 

FAM Section 9004 – States that in a stepparent adoption, the form prescribed by the department for the consent of the birth parent shall contain substantially the following notice: "Notice to the parent who gives the child for adoption: If you and your child lived together at any time as parent and child, the adoption of your child through a stepparent adoption does not affect the child's right to inherit your property or the property of other blood relatives."

 

FAM Section 9005 – Summarizes how a birth parent can withdraw consent.

 

FAM Section 9006 – States that if the petitioner moves to withdraw the adoption petition or to dismiss the proceeding, the court clerk shall immediately notify the probation officer, qualified court investigator, or county welfare department of the action. If a birth parent has refused to give the required consent, the adoption petition shall be dismissed.

 

FAM Section 9007 – States that the prospective adoptive parent and the child proposed to be adopted shall appear before the court pursuant to Sections 8612 and 8613.

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