There are two ways in which a child may be relinquished for adoption. Either birth parent may 1) relinquish the child for adoption to the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency, or 2) relinquish to one of those agencies for adoption by the person specified by the parent in the Relinquishment (called a Designated Relinquishment, and explained more below).
Either birth parent may relinquish a child for adoption to the State Department of Social Services or a licensed adoption agency. The relinquishment has no effect until a certified copy is sent to, and filed with, the State Department of Social Services. Generally, the relinquishment is final after a ten-day waiting period, and the relinquishment may then be rescinded only by the mutual consent of the department or agency to which the child was relinquished and the parent(s) relinquishing the child.
A parent may voluntarily relinquish his or her child to the State Department of Social Services or a licensed county adoption agency “at any time while the child is a dependent child of the juvenile court, if the department or agency is willing to accept the relinquishment.”
The juvenile court may not limit the ability of a parent to voluntarily relinquish his or her child to the state department of social services or to a licensed county adoption agency at any time while the child is a dependent child of the juvenile court, if that state or county agency is willing to accept the relinquishment. In re R.S. (2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1137, 1140, 1151-1155. However, the relinquishment must be completed and accepted by the State Department of Social Services before the commencement of the WIC §366.26 hearing at which the juvenile court determines the permanent plan. Moreover the juvenile court retains authority to disapprove an agency placement decision, even post termination of parental rights, if the agency’s placement decision is determined to be "patently absurd or unquestionably not in the minor’s best interests." In re B.C. (2011) 192 Cal.App.4th 129, 145, 149.
"The ability of the parent to relinquish a child for an independent or private adoption following the filing of a dependency petition is not the same as the ability of a parent to relinquish the child for a state or county agency adoption." "Allowing the parent to relinquish to a private agency or arrange an independent adoption would be inconsistent with the court and the agency’s overall responsibility for care custody and control of the child." Taylor M. v. Superior Court (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 97, 107-109; Teresa J. v Superior Court (2002) 102 Cal.App.4th 366, 368, 370. Once a dependency petition has been filed the parent must seek the juvenile court’s authorization to arrange an independent adoption or relinquish the child to a private adoption agency.
When a birth parent relinquishes a child who is the subject of a petition for dependency jurisdiction, the agency accepting the relinquishment must give written notice of the relinquishment within five court days to the juvenile court hearing the child’s case, the child’s attorney, if any, and the attorney for the relinquishing parent.
When a dependency petition has been filed, the social worker is required to tell the court at disposition whether the parent was advised of the option to voluntarily relinquish the child for adoption, if an adoption agency is willing to accept the relinquishment.
Once the parent relinquishes the child, the State Department of Social Services or adoption agency has full care, custody, and control of a relinquished child. Hence, if a child is freed by relinquishment prior to the declaration of dependency, the court may exercise its discretion to simply dismiss the dependency matter.
Any placement for temporary care, or for adoption, made by the department, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency may be terminated in its discretion at any time before the granting of an order of adoption.
The relinquishing parent may name in the relinquishment the person or person with whom the parent intends the child be placed for adoption.
If the child is not placed in the home of the named person or the child is removed from that home prior to the granting of the adoption, the relinquishing parent shall be given notice of that decision within 72 hours of the decision not to place the child for adoption or the decision to remove the child from the home. The relinquishing parent has 30 days from the date on which the notice described in subdivision (g) was mailed to rescind the relinquishment.
The relinquishment has no effect until a certified copy is sent to, and filed with, the State Department of Social Services. Generally, the relinquishment is final after a ten-day waiting period, and other than the exception for a child not adopted by the person(s) designated by the relinquishing parent(s), the relinquishment may then be rescinded only by the mutual consent of the department or agency to which the child was relinquished and the parent(s) relinquishing the child.
All of the adoption program regulations that apply to a standard relinquishment apply as well to a designated relinquishment. The counseling and advisement services that must be provided prior to an agency accepting a relinquishment and the protocols that must be followed when a parent relinquishes a child to a state or county adoption agency can be found in the California Department of Social Services, Manual of Practices and Procedures, Adoption Users Manual, subchapter 5, available online at http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/word/PG308.htm.
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