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Happy Family

Looking to Adopt?

Our law office is a small and friendly law firm with offices in San Francisco, and Sonoma County, California. Our firm has focused exclusively on family building for over seventy years.

 

We are known for our sensitivity, respect, and support to all involved throughout the adoption process. We promise to give you a straightforward assessment of adoption, and discuss your specific concerns, fears and interests.  We work with all kinds of families.

 

Our team provides assistance, legal advice, and representation for prospective parents wishing to adopt a newborn. We also provide legal services for stepparent/domestic partner, relative, and adult adoptions.

Throughout the past seventy years, we have helped thousands of adoptive parents become a family. No matter what kind of family you are or dream of, we can help you achieve it.

Newborn Adoption

Our office handles the legal work for private, newborn adoptions in which the adoptive parents take the baby home directly from the hospital or shortly after birth. The majority of these adoptions are “open adoptions,” which means that the birth parents and adoptive parents know each others’ identities and have some type of contact before and after the birth of the child. The concept of open adoption became accepted more than 25 years ago, and replaced the traditional closed adoption system in which:

  • Birth mothers knew little if anything about the family that adopted their children, and did not get to choose the adoptive parents.

  • Adoptive parents were left with questions about the child’s birth parents.

  • Adopted children grew up wondering who their birth parents were and why they were placed for adoption.

Most of the adoptions we finalize each year are open adoptions of newborns. Independent research as well as our clients’ experiences convince us that some level of openness is the best choice for birth parents, adoptive parents, and children.

How you Find Each Other

In an open adoption, the birth mother and the adoptive parents choose each other. Some studies suggest that open adoption enhances the adoptive parents’ feeling of entitlement and connection to the child when they have been specifically selected by the birth mother to raise the child.

Open Adoption is Not Co-Parenting

Once an adoption is final, there is never any question that the adoptive parents are the child’s true and legal parents. At the same time, one of the benefits of open adoption is the ability for the adoptive parents, birth parents and the adopted child to have a communication and contact framework for the period after the placement. There are as many kinds of future contact agreements as there are adoptive families and birth parents. Some birth mothers and adoptive parents prefer minimal contact but want periodic pictures and updates about the baby. At the other end of the spectrum, some adoptive families welcome the birth mother into their lives on an ongoing basis like a member of the extended family. We will help you develop whatever kind of agreement will work best for your individual comfort level and circumstances. These agreements may be filed in court as part of the legal process.

Families of All Kinds

Our law firm is pleased to work with families of all kinds. What’s important is that the adoptive family be able to provide the love, care and support of a child.

Your marital status or sexual orientation poses no barrier to adoption. Just like any other factor of adoptive parents — age, ethnic origin, religion — birth parents are seeking all sorts of families for their child. The key is to be open, honest and comfortable in talking about who you are.

Stepparent, Relative,
and Adult Adoptions

Stepparent/Domestic Partner Adoption

We can assist if you would like to legally adopt your spouse’s or domestic partner’s child. We terminate the other legal parent’s rights, coordinate with the investigative social worker, and complete all necessary legal work, including court appearances. With respect to same sex families, our office is highly experienced in this evolving area. We are happy to discuss legal developments and options with our LBGTQ+ clients.

Relative Adoption

We can help you to legally adopt a relative who is a minor. We terminate the legal parents’ rights, coordinate with the social worker who will conduct a one visit investigative study, and complete all necessary legal work including court appearances.

Adult Adoption

California law provides that an adult can legally adopt another adult in certain circumstances. Often people choose to adopt an adult stepchild (over 18) because it is an easier process than the stepparent adoption of a minor, or a relative or someone close to them either for emotional or inheritance purposes. We can help with the entire process, including filing the necessary documents in court and scheduling a court appearance to finalize the adoption.

Smiling mother holding a happy child both dressed in white pajamas

We are happy to help you legally adopt a relative or a spouse’s child.

How an Attorney Can Help

Adoption is a wonderful, loving way to build a family. But as you may be aware, adopting or placing a child can be quite complicated, with laws differing widely from state to state.  It is important to become as knowledgeable as possible as you begin to build your family through adoption.

How can an attorney help me in the adoption process?

A knowledgeable, experienced adoption attorney can help explain the adoption legal process and outline your options. The attorney can clarify the relevant adoption laws and regulations in your state. If you are considering adopting or placing a child from another state, your attorney can consult with licensed professionals familiar with the laws of that state, then explain them to you and/or refer you to that professional.

What is the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)?

All states in the United States must follow the rules of the ICPC if a child is born in one state and being adopted by parents who reside in another state. The ICPC is designed to ensure that: A child has gone legally from one state to another; adoptive parents have full access to information on the child’s health and well-being; parental rights are or will be properly terminated; the adoptive parents taking the child from one state to another have approved home studies showing that they have a safe home and that they are a safe family who is ready to parent. 

 

Lawyers or agencies in both states assist in the preparation and coordination of the ICPC and will keep the process on track so the child may come home with a safe adoption.  Adoptive parents may not leave the state of the child’s birth until both states’  ICPC administrators give their approval. It may take from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the state. We find that clients tend to enjoy the time they are alone with their baby out of state while ICPC clears. It is a great chance to bond with your new baby.

How do I go about finding an experienced adoption attorney?

The Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) is an organization of nearly 500 highly vetted attorneys dedicated to the competent and ethical practice of adoption and assisted reproduction law.  The Academy is the largest and most easily available resource of experienced adoption attorneys. The Academy of California Adoption Lawyers is a California organization for qualified and experienced California adoption lawyers. Adams, Romer, Stoeckenius & Wotherspoon LLP has one or more attorney members of both AAAA and ACAL.

What are some of the specific legal issues that may arise? How can an attorney address them?

Your attorney can give legal advice regarding issues that may arise during the pregnancy and after placement.  A few examples are:

- Determining what, if any, payments to birth parents during pregnancy are legal and permissible under the laws of your state or other applicable jurisdictions.

- Making sure all the birth parents’ rights are fully and legally terminated.

- Providing resources for appropriate adoption counseling to help the birth parents through this difficult time.

- Forming a strategy to deal with unique state-by-state issues faced by LGBT and single adoptive parents.

How can an attorney help me regarding the issues of post-placement contact with the birth parent(s)?

Post-placement contact between the adoptive and birth parents varies from periodic letters and photographs exchanged through your attorney or agency to more open agreements involving phone calls and scheduled visits. Your attorney can help you understand these options and, if appropriate, draft an applicable agreement between you and the birth parents. An attorney can file this post-placement agreement in court if the parties want this to be a legal document rather than just an informal agreement.

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