How to Adopt an Adult in California
Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.
The information included in this guide does not apply to independent, agency, international, or stepparent adoptions. See the Stepparent Adoption Guide for information on that procedure.
Click here to download this entire guide, with step-by-step instructions for completing the required forms.
This packet includes:
Adult adoption is a legal procedure in which an older adult adopts a younger adult. Once an adult adoption is complete, the parties assume toward each other a legal parent-child relationship, with all associated rights and responsibilities of such a relationship, including inheritance rights.
An adult adoption severs all existing parent-child relationships, unless the adopting parent is the adoptee's stepparent. When a stepparent adopts an adult stepchild, the adopting parent's spouse retains his/her parent-child relationship with the adoptee.
The procedures for adopting an adult in California are found in Family Code sections 9300-9340. Anyone considering an adult adoption should read these code sections. You can find the Family Code as follows:
There are no fill-in-the-blanks forms for adult adoptions. You will need to draft your own pleadings. The documents that you file with the court must contain very specific language. The Law Library has resources that provide models of these documents, which you can use as a guide for drafting your own pleadings. Samples of the required documents, with instructions, are found at the end of this guide. The required documents for an adult adoption are:
The Adoption Agreement. This document states that the parties agree to assume toward each other the legal relationship of parent and child, and to have all the rights and be subject to all the duties and responsibilities of that relationship. (blank Adoption Agreement form)
The Petition for Approval of Adoption Agreement. This is the formal request that the court approve the Adoption Agreement. This document must provide specific details, including the ages of the parties, the nature and length of their relationship, and the reasons the parties are seeking this adoption. Be clear and specific about why the adoption would be in the best interest of the parties. (blank Petition for Approval of Adoption Agreement)
The Order of Adoption. This is the formal court order granting the adoption. Present this at the adoption hearing for the judge to sign. (blank Order of Adoption)
Spousal Consent(s). If the adopting parent or adoptee is married, consent of the spouse(s) is required. (blank consent for adopting parent's spouse) (blank consent for adoptee's spouse)
Step 1. Prepare the required documents
Prepare the Adoption Agreement, Petition for Approval of Adoption Agreement, Order of Adoption, and any required Spousal Consents. Click here for instructions for completing these documents. These documents do not need to be notarized. Make copies for all parties and for the Court.
Your Adoption Agreement and Spousal Consents should be attached to your Petition as exhibits. A page in front of the exhibit identifying it as Exhibit A (or Exhibit B, or other exhibit letter, depending on how many exhibits you have and the order in which they are mentioned in your Petition) is acceptable in the original, and in all of your copies but one. In one of your copies, you must replace this exhibit-identifying page with a sheet of cardstock (thick paper), with a rigid tab on the bottom (paper or plastic is acceptable) marked "Exhibit A" (or other exhibit letter). The copy with the tab is one of the copies that will be kept by the court, and the tab exists to allow the judge to quickly flip to the exhibit. If you forget this tab on one of the copies, the court clerk may reject your entire filing. Note: The Sacramento County Public Law Library sells card stock and exhibit tabs at the Circulation Desk for 25 cents each.
Step 2. Obtain form VS-44, Court Report of Adoption
Form VS-44, Court Report of Adoption, is required for all types of adoptions. It is completed by the court after the adoption is approved and forwarded to the Office of Vital Records. In many courts, the clerk will provide the form. Otherwise, you may request the form by mail from the California Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records, MS 5103 P.O. Box 997410, Sacramento, CA 95899-7410. An original form is required, so you cannot download it from the internet.
Step 3. File your documents
File your Petition for Approval of Adoption Agreement, including exhibits, along with the blank VS-44 if the court will not provide it. You may file in the county where either party resides. In Sacramento, file your papers at the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse, 3341 Power Inn Road. The clerk will endorse your petition, assign your case number, and set a hearing date. The court does not impose a filing fee for adoption papers, but you will have to pay $20, which is forwarded to the Registrar of Vital Statistics for preparing and maintaining the official records (Health and Safety Code§ 103730).
NOTE: If the adoptee is a developmentally disabled adult, you must give a 30-day notice of the hearing to the director of the regional center for the developmentally disabled. The center will file a written report with the court regarding the suitability of the adoption (Family Code §9327).
Step 4. Attend the adoption hearing
Both parties must be present at the hearing. Bring your Adoption Agreement and Order of Adoption to your hearing. The court will ask you about the reasons for this adult adoption. Make sure that the statements in your Petition are clear and specific, so you can refer to the Petition as you speak to the judge.
Step 5. File your signed Order of Adoption
After your hearing, file your signed Order of Adoption. The clerk can provide you certified copies of the Order of Adoption upon your request.
Step 6. Amend your birth certificate
After the adoption is final, the court will mail the VS-44 to the State Office of Vital Records. On this form, you may request an amended birth certificate that reflects this adoption. It may take several months for the Office of Vital Records to process your amendment.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
California Forms of Pleading and Practice KFC 1010 .A65 C3 (Ready Reference)
Vol. 2, Chap. 12C, Adoption: Adults and Unmarried Minors.
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using the Matthew Bender CD.
California Transactions Forms: Family Law KFC 68 .F3
Chap. 6, § III: Adoption of Adult or Unmarried Minor.
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.
Witkin Summary of California Law KFC 80 .W57 (Ready Reference)
Vol. 10, Parent and Child, §§ 154 - 156.
Electronic Access: On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.
updated 9/13 mpj