Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements to adopt through the San Diego County
Requirements include residency in San Diego County, completion of a medical exam including TB test, employment verification, and being at least 18 years of age. We do not discriminate based on age, gender, marital status, religion, or sexual orientation. *Please note there is a separate process for out of county and/or out of state applicants.
What if I do not live in the San Diego area?
If you live outside the county of San Diego or in another state and have an approved home study please send it to us at:
Attn: Placement Coordinator
8911 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
Please also indicate the desired characteristics of the child you are seeking to adopt, including age and gender. If you do not have Resource Family Approval (RFA) or an approved adoption home study, hopefully, you have begun the process. Completing the Resource Family Approval (RFA) or an adoptive home study is the first step in the process of adopting children, and is required by law.
How do I find out about the Orientation meeting?
Call the Kidsline at 1-877-792-KIDS (5437) to register for an upcoming orientation. This meeting will introduce you to the adoption/Resource Family process.
If you wish to speak to an adoptions worker, you may call 1-877-423-6788 (1-877 I-ADOPT-U) during regular business hours, or you may call the Kidsline at 1-877-792-5437 (1-877-792 KIDS) for more information about the foster licensing process.
What Does San Diego County Adoptions offer people who adopt?
San Diego County Adoptions is the oldest licensed public adoption agency in California, licensed since 1948. Some of the services we provide are:
•Finding permanent families for children.
•Assisting prospective adoptive families through the home study process.
•Counseling parents who are considering relinquishment of their children.
•Post adoption services (child and parent support groups, parent education, and other referrals as needed).
•AAP (Adoptions Assistance Program) Financial Assistance.
•Free educational classes on a range of adoption, child development, and parenting topics.
How can I find an Adoption Office location near me?
- Foster and Adoptive Resource Family Services 8911 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123 1-877-IADOPTU o 1-877-423-6788
- Step-Parent and Independent Adoption Programs 8911 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, CA 92111 858-694-5149
- South Bay Nuestros Niños (servicios bilingües-se habla español) 303 H. Street, Suite 201 Chula Vista, CA 91910 619-585-5290
- North Inland 463 N. Midway, Ste 200 Escondido, CA 92027 760-480-3404
- North Coastal 1320 Union Plaza Court Oceanside, CA 92054 760-754-3456
How long does it take to complete the adoption process?
The length of the adoption process varies depending upon the timeliness of paperwork and the child(ren) requested. Resource Family Approval with San Diego County may take an average of nine months to one year, as priority approvals are conducted for the relatives of children in care.
Generally, the more open a family is in regards to age, characteristics, and number of children, the more likely they will receive a placement sooner. The length of time from when a child is placed in your home to when the adoption is finalized can vary. There is a current need for Exceptional Families for our Exceptional Children. Exceptional Children are our children who are in need of a permanent home and fall into at least one of the following categories:
- Children over the age of 8 years old.
- Children in sibling sets of three or more.
- Children with medical, emotional, and/or developmental needs.
- Children of different ethnic backgrounds.
How do I get matched with a child(ren) for adoption?
San Diego County has an Adoption Placement Committee that meets weekly. Once a family is approved as a Resource Family, they go into our waiting pool. At the Placement Committee meeting, children needing placement are screened and 5-8 families that best meet the needs of the child(ren) are selected. A database is used to assist in this process. The placement coordinator then sends the selected families' information to the children’s social worker. The children's social worker reads them and speaks with the Matching Specialist for each Resource Family. The family that best meets the needs of the child is selected.
What does the Resource Family Approval process Include?
The Resource Family Approval process begins with prospective applicants attending an orientation meeting (an exception is made for relatives and foster parents when a child in question is already living in the home). Here, you will receive a complete overview of what to expect during the process. To view the current orientation schedule, please click the "Start Here" button on the SDcares4kids.com home page or call the KidsLine at 877-792-KIDS (5437).
After attending orientation the Resource Family Approval process includes, but is not limited to, the completion of the following requirements: specific required paperwork, a home environment assessment, interviews with all members of the household (including home visits), fingerprinting and criminal/child abuse clearances of all adults who reside or are frequently in the home, references, employment and/or financial verification, a health screening for all adult applicants, medical/mental health reports and pre-approval training. The interview process and family evaluation also focuses on education and training regarding trauma-informed care, grief and loss, and partnering with Child Welfare Services to ensure child safety, while collaborating towards family reunification and permanency. Applicants will partner with multiple social workers throughout the process.
Once a family is approved through the Resource Family Approval process, those who wish to adopt a child in their care will complete additional requirements needed to finalize an adoption. Examples include, but are not limited to: tuberculosis (TB) testing for all adults in the home, adoption preparation classes, and submitting copies of various legal documents such as marriage certificates, registered domestic partnership certificates, divorce decrees, spousal death certificates, legal separation decrees, and/or AD-210 spousal consent forms. An adoption social worker will collaborate with you and walk you through what is needed for your specific situation.
What is a Telling?
If the children's social worker identifies your family as a good match to meet the needs of a child(ren) in care, they will contact you and provide you with the Telling, which is a comprehensive report of the child(ren)'s background, current needs, and all pertinent information that is know to the County of San Diego. This includes birth family information, characteristics, social functioning, academic functioning, psychological functioning, developmental functioning, placement history, medical information, and pictures if available. The Telling is usually presented by the children’s social worker to the applicant family and their applicant social worker. Once you have reviewed the information, you will be given an opportunity to determine whether your family is a good fit for the child. At that point, the social worker proceeds with planning visits and the transition plan, based on the child’s needs and at the child’s pace.
What is a first meeting?
The first meeting is an introductory visit with the child. This visit usually takes place at the foster home or a location near the foster home that is familiar to the child. This visit can often be very exciting, yet filled with anxiety for both the applicant and the child. The child’s social worker will have prepared the child and will be present at the first meeting to comfort the child. The Resource Family will be prepared for the meeting, as well.
How long does the transition take?
The length of the transition varies depending upon the age of the child, their history, and their current situation. An ideal transition begins the children's social worker presenting the child with a Life Book that features photos of the prospective adoptive parents and their family, the child's room, any pets in the home, etc. Next, there is a series of daily contact visits, following the first meeting, which increase in length and gradually allow the child to feel more comfortable with the prospective parent(s). The transition requires flexibility and patience on the part of the prospective adoptive parent(s) to assure that the process is as comfortable as possible for the child.
How many children are available to adopt with San Diego County Adoptions?
At any given time there are over 3,000 children in foster care in San Diego County. There are over 40 children waiting for forever families in any given month who do not have foster parents or relatives identified to adopt them.
What are the ages of children needing homes?
Children of all ages (0 -17) are in foster care and in need of a loving family with whom they can belong forever. Our greatest need is for Exceptional Families that are open to providing permenancy to Exceptional Children who fall into at least one of the following categories:
- Over the age of 8 years old
- Sibling sets of two, three or more children
- Medical, emotional, and/or developmental needs
- Children of different ethnic backgrounds
We also have a need for families open to adopting children whose birth parents have mental illness and a history of drug use.
What if I start the adoption process and change my mind?
If you start the Resource Family Approval process with San Diego County and then change your mind, simply notify your assigned worker and we will place your approval on hold or close the file. Part of the Resource Family Approval process is deciding if adoption is right for you and your family at this time.
What is a voluntary relinquishment?
A voluntary relinquishment occurs when a birthmother and/or birthfather voluntarily give up their parental rights and request an adoptive family for their child. San Diego County Adoptions has trained social workers to handle these cases, which are expedited due to time constraints.
What is the Guardianship process and cost?
If the child in question is not a dependent of the Juvenile Court, the petitioner would need to go to Probate Court located at 1409 Fourth Ave., San Diego, California 92101, in order to obtain a Guardianship Packet or they can visit the following website: www.sdcourt.ca.gov. Relatives will then be sent to Family Court for an investigation. The fee for this is $800 and a Family Court Facilitator will complete the investigation. Non-Relatives will be referred to the Health and Human Services Agency Child Welfare Services for an investigation. A social worker from the Agency will complete the investigation and the fee is $708. The fee may be reduced based on the monthly family income and family size or waived by the court. Relative guardians are eligible for CalWORKs and should apply for benefits as a non-needy relative. Relatives can apply for CalWORKs prior to their appointment as the child’s legal guardian. Non-Relative guardians are eligible to receive AFDC- FC funds (foster care funds) and will need to contact the Hotline at 858-560-2191 to initiate the process. However, non-relative guardians will need to have temporary or permanent guardianship of a child before they are eligible to start receiving funding from the Agency. Please note that guardianships established in Probate Court are not eligible for Kin-GAP funding.
If the child is a dependent of Juvenile Court and the Agency has to select a permanent plan for the child, then guardianship is one of the three permanent plan options that can be selected. Relatives, non-relative extended family members and foster parents can all be appointed as a legal guardian, but a guardianship assessment has to be completed by the Agency prior to their appointment. The assessment will be completed by a Health and Human Services Agency Child Welfare Services social worker and there is not a fee for this assessment. Funding is available either in the form of Kin-GAP funding for relative guardians or AFDC- FC funds (foster care funds) for all non-relative guardians. For guardianships established in Juvenile Court, the Agency will process the necessary paperwork to initiate funding.
What is the Stepparent Adoption process and cost?
To receive information on how to file a Stepparent adoption please go to the website www.sdcourt.ca.gov and select "Juvenile", then "Adoption". The ADOPT-050 form on Stepparent. Domestic Partner Adoptions provides an overview of all the forms needed to complete the process. Submit the completed forms to the Juvenile Court at 2851 Meadowlark Drive, San Diego, 92123 or 325 S. Melrose Dr. Vista, 92081 to file them with the Court Clerk.
What is an Independent Adoption and does San Diego County Adoptions
offer this service?
Yes, San Diego County Adoptions completes independent adoptions, which is a more detailed process than stepparent adotions. The case is initiated upon the Agency's receipt of a stamped (‘conformed’) copy of a petition that has been filed at Juvenile Court. The fee for this type of adoption is $4500 or $1500 for families with a valid home study. There is a sliding scale for lower income families. In addition, an Adoption Services Provider (ASP) is required when the child is not related to the applicant(s), which generally is an additional fee of $800-$2,000.