COVID-19 independent adoptions

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) guidance about independent adoptions during COVID-19.  This guidance is in effect until June 30, 2020.

In person contact with the birth parent must continue.  Alternative communication methods are not allowed.  There must be an evaluation if the birth parent’s history or current condition indicates inability to understand the content, nature and effect of signing an adoption agreement.

An agency representative must witness, in person, the birth parent signing the adoption placement agreement.  An agency representative must also interview, in person, all persons who are consenting to the adoption.  The agency representative must witness the signing of the consent to the adoption in person.

An adoption service provider or representative of the CDSS Regional Office or delegated county agency should not by alternative communication witness or give an interview about the waiver of the right to revoke consent.

The adoption placement and adoption consent form can be filed with the court as soon as it reopens.  If the forms cannot be filed with the court, the prospective adoptive parent can submit a copy of the form with 50 percent of the investigation fee directly to CDSS or the delegated county agency and the agency can begin the investigation.  All mandatory requirements, including criminal background check, are required before the adoption investigation is finalized.

CDSS or the delegated agency can begin the adoption investigation before the investigation fee is paid, but the fee must be collected before the report is submitted to the court.

Home visits and interviews with prospective adoptive parents can occur via videoconference.

For Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children cases, the required study must be done within 60 days and it must be done in person.

The 180 day time period for investigation reports is suspended because of court closures.  The 180 day time period will resume when the state of emergency is lifted.  (ACL 20-56, May 18, 2020.)