Is it possible to complete an adoption without parental consent? The answer depends upon what type of adoption we’re talking about and of course the unique circumstances of each case. In a CA stepparent adoption, the custodial parent whose spouse is trying to adopt generally must prove that the other parent “has left the child in the care and custody of the other parent for a period of one year without any provision for the child’s support, or without communication from the parent, with the intent on the part of the parent to abandon the child.” (Ca Family Code §7822). This is often referred to as “abandonment.” A parent doesn’t need to have declared their intent to abandon the child and may not even have subjectively wanted to, as case law indicates that the court will look both at their subjective intent and their objective intent, as demonstrated by their actions. The court may also choose to ignore “token” communication and support.
In a relative or other type of independent adoption, abandonment may also be used to terminate one or both parents’ parental rights. However, the party seeking to adoption must have a right to file for adoption (“standing”). Persons who may file to adopt include: someone who has been named in an Adoption Placement Agreement by at least one parent, a child’s relative, including step-relatives, someone designated in a parent’s will to adopt, or the child’s legal guardian. In non-relative situations, it may be necessary for prospective adoptive parents to first obtain guardianship of the child before pursuing adoption. Waiting periods for filing for adoption after being appointed guardian vary based on the circumstances of the case (Ca Family Code §8802). Once prospective adoptive parents have been guardians for two years, a presumption arises that adoption is in the child’s best interests, so an abandonment action may not be necessary to terminate a parent’s rights. ALG attorneys offer a free twenty-minute consultation to speak with you about your unique situation and evaluate whether adoption without parental consent is a viable option in your case.