Second Parent Adoption California

Who can do a second parent adoption?  

In California, any one who acts as a parent in a child’s life can petition the court for legal rights.  It’s most common for same-sex couples to opt for a second parent adoption, but we’ve also seen family members and close friends step up to the plate when a single parent consents to such an adoption.  California now allows three parents on a birth certificate if it’s in the child’s best interest.

What is a second parent adoption?  

This type of adoption is unique in that creates an opportunity for someone to adopt a child even though they aren’t the biological parent.  It’s most commonly used by same-sex partners who aren’t married or registered domestic partners.  We’ve also helped close family friends and family members with an adoption when the child to be adopted has only one parent, and the adoption is in the child’s best interest.  

 Why do a second parent adoption?  

An adoption legalizes your relationship to the child without terminating the biological parent’s rights.  It gives the child stability both emotionally and, potentially, financially.  It clears the way for a smoother transition if something were to happen to the bio parent, and the child must be cared for full-time by another parent.  With another legal parent in the picture, a guardianship proceeding isn’t necessary.  Adoption also affects inheritance rights which can beneficial to the child and to the state by preventing the possibility of the child becoming its dependent.  

“We are very appreciative of Megan’s insights and recommendations.  Especially her frankness in suggesting that we didn’t need to retain an attorney in our particular situation.  Thank you!”  

K & D, prospective adoptive parents

How to process a second parent adoption 

The process is pretty straightforward.  Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The legal parents of the child must consent to the adoption.  The bio parent retaining parental rights will consent, but his or her parental rights will not be terminated.
  2. You must file an adoption petition with the appropriate court.
  3. A social worker from a public or private agency will do a full investigation.  This includes, but is not limited to, fingerprinting and the adoptive parent, interviewing parents and child, obtaining letters of recommendation.  The social worker will write a full report and submit this to the court.
  4. Schedule and appear at your finalization hearing.  
  5. In California, you can find all the forms you need online on the California courts website.  You can also check the superior court in your county.

When do I need an attorney?

You should consider hiring an attorney if any of the following apply to your situation:

  1. You have an arrest record of any kind.
  2. A legal parent refuses to consent to the adoption.
  3. The child or adoptive parent has Native American Heritage.
  4. One of the parties or child lives in another state.
  5. You don’t like paperwork and you want someone to hand-hold you through the process.


We are experts in adoption and offer a complimentary 15-minute consultation with one of our attorneys.  Call the number below to schedule an appointment; we look forward to hearing from you!