What is a Stepparent Adoption?
A stepparent adoption is initiated when an adult files a petition with the Superior Court in the county in which they reside to adopt the child of their spouse or domestic partner. Once the stepparent adoption is final, the adoptive parent has all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent-child relationship. That new parent-child relationship is permanent and is the same as that of a birth family.
Why is the Probation Department Involved in a Stepparent Adoption?
During the stepparent adoption process, a stepparent adoption investigation report is written submitted to the Court. It consists of declarations by the birth parent and the spouse or partner who is petitioning to adopt. The declarations explain the circumstances of the child’s conception which allows the identification of any person(s) who claim to have parentage the child to be notified and consent to the adoption.
What will the Probation Department require of me?
In order to facilitate the Probation Officer’s investigation of your petition and to avoid unnecessary delays, the following documents and information is needed to proceed with your application. Once the necessary information is obtained, please return the filed ADPOT-200 Petition and supporting documents to the Merced County Probation Department located at 1880 Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA 95341.
- Certified copy of birth certificate of child (children) being adopted.
- Proof of legal entry if child (children) is/are not United States citizen(s).
- Certified copy of final divorce decree of natural parents or death certificate, if applicable.
- Certified copy final divorce decrees and/or death certificates of all previous marriages of petitioner.
- Certified copy of marriage certificate of petitioner and natural parent retaining custody.
- Copy of Consent of Nature Parent Relinquishing Custody, which has been signed and filed in the Office of the Clerk of Merced County, in conjunction with the adoption or a copy of Freedom from Custody petition and proof of service to non-custodial parent. Copies of the form (Consent of Natural Parent Relinquishing Custody) are available in the Office of the Clerk of Merced County.
- Original letter of consent written by the child being adopted if twelve (12) years of age, or older.
- Four (4) letters of reference form persons known to petitioner who are not related to petitioner. The letters should include the following information:
- Name, address, and phone number of the reference
- Length of time they have known the petitioner
- Relationship with the petitioner and child being adopted
- Number of times they have visited petitioner in the home
- Attitude of petitioner towards the child (children) being adopted
- If known, information detailing petitioner’s job title and work habits or length of employment.
- Fingerprints of Petitioner (required). The Probation Department will submit your fingerprints to the California Department of Justice. Results can take up to one (1) month to be returned from the Department of Justice.
- To submit your fingerprints, you must contact (209) 385-7665 to schedule an appointment for a “Request for Live Scan Service” (form #BC118016) to be completed. At that time, payment in the amount of $66.00 will be required. Payment options of cash, check, or money order payable to the County of Merced will only be accepted.
- Contact the Shift Supervisor at the Merced County Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex at (209) 381-1400 and request an appointment to be fingerprinted.
- The Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Correctional is located at 2840 W. Sandy Mush Road, Merced, CA.
- You must take your “Request for Live Scan Service” form with you when you report for your fingerprinting appointment.
Once you have acquired the necessary information and documents and returned the information to the Probation Department, a probation officer will be assigned to the case and arrangements will be made for a home visit and interview with the petitioner, petitioner’s spouse and child (children) being adopted.
All original documents will be returned to the petitioner upon completion of the court report. A copy of the report will be provided to you, or your attorney, if applicable, upon filing. It will then be necessary for you, or your attorney to contact the Superior Court to set a date for the court hearing.
Please do not set the court hearing until the report has been completed.
If you have any specific questions regarding the Stepparent Adoption process, please contact the Merced County Probation Department at (209) 385-7494.