What are some reasons to turn my guardianship into an adoption?

Converting your guardianship to an adoption in California is a relatively straight-forward legal process.  There may be several reasons to turn your guardianship into an adoption.  First, even though a legal guardianship gives full legal custody to the guardian, there are some restrictions, such as obtaining the court’s permission to move out of state and notifying the parents of any moves within the state.  Guardians may also worry that the parents or another family member will try to terminate the guardianship by taking them back to court.  Even though terminating a guardianship requires either all parties to agree to do so or a court order after finding that termination is in the child’s best interests, the thought of being taken back to court is understandably discouraging.  Adoption offers security to both the child and the guardian that their home will not be disrupted. 

How long do I have to be a guardian before I can adopt?

Knowing how long you have to be a guardian before filing for adoption in California can be tricky and legal advice is probably necessary.  Generally, you have to have been a child’s legal guardian for at least one year before you can file to adopt the child.  However, if the child has been legally abandoned you may only need to wait six months.  In some situations, though, it is best to wait two years after being appointed guardian before filing for adoption, because the law allows a court to terminate parental rights based on CA Probate Code section 1516.5, which basically says that if the child has been in the physical custody of the guardian for at least two years, the court can terminate parental rights if it finds that “the child would benefit from being adopted by his or her guardian,” when considering the child’s best interests.  The attorneys at Adoption Law Group can advise you on when the timing is best to file for adoption, given your particular circumstances.

What steps do I take to turn the guardianship into an adoption?

After filing the Adoption Request, the State Department of Social Services or the designated county agency will conduct an investigation of you and your home to recommend to the court whether the adoption should be granted.  The home investigation involve background checks of all adult members of the home, a detailed interview with all of the parties, including the child, lots of paperwork, and a home visit.  The fee for the investigation is typically $4,500 but may be reduced for financial hardship.  Parents will either need to consent to the adoption or their rights will need to be terminated by the Court.  As part of the adoption, the guardians may change the child’s name and a new birth certificate will be issued after finalization.

Adoption Law Group offers a free, twenty-minute consultation to discuss the best approach to converting your guardianship into an adoption.