In California, the Safe Surrender law only applies to the relinquishment of a child up to three days old. If you need more time to decide whether you are ready to be a parent, or you have decided to relinquish a child who is more than three days old, there are several options available to you. This guide will help you understand what options are available for parents of children of any age.
The process may vary depending on your specific circumstances, but here are some general guidelines:
- Contact an adoption agency (like HFS): You can contact an adoption agency within your county to discuss your options for relinquishing a child. An agency like HFS will help you determine whether adoption is right for you, will provide you with information about the adoption process, and will help you make an adoption plan that meets your needs and the needs of your child. We also have pre-approved adoptive parents open to There is no cost to you for working with HFS to relinquish, but the adopting parents will need to pay for a homestudy and other services.
- Contact a family law attorney: A family law attorney can help you understand your legal rights and obligations related to relinquishing a child. They can also help you explore your options for adoption and help you navigate the legal process. Working with an attorney may cost fees.
- Consider guardianship: If you are not ready to permanently relinquish your child, you might consider appointing a legal guardian to care for your child. Guardianship allows another person, whom you choose, to make decisions for your child (about, for example, health and education) and provide for their care, but you retain some legal rights as a parent. The process is quite easy and little to no cost.
- Consider foster care: If you are unable to care for your child but do not want to permanently relinquish them, you may consider placing them in foster care. Foster care provides temporary care for children while their parents work to resolve their issues and regain custody. You can contact your county child protective services agency, or an adoption and foster care agency like HFS, for information about how to do this. Most of the time, parents are asked to pay while the children are in care.
If you are considering relinquishing your child, it’s important to seek support and guidance from trusted professionals and loved ones to make sure you are making the best decision for yourself and your child. If you would like to talk to someone about your options, please contact us through our hotline (800) 464-2367 to speak to one of our social workers.