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CPS Adoption Questions: Will Child Protective Services Be Involved?

Child Protective Services (CPS) provides protection for children who are at risk of abuse or neglect.  CPS’s job is to make sure kids are safe and that families have the support they need provide a safe environment for their child.  Depending on the circumstances of your adoption, CPS may be called in to assess the situation.

When Could CPS Become Involved in an Adoption?

child protective services in adoptionThe hospital will likely call Child Protective Services if a baby or birth mother tests positive for drugs at delivery.   This is because drug use during pregnancy poses health a risk to the baby.  Child Protective Services will likely be called in when a birth mother or her baby test positive for drugs.  Most states mandate that the hospital report positive test results to CPS. 

What is CPS’s role in an adoption 

If a delivery hospital calls CPS, a case worker will come to the hospital  and CPS will officially open a case.  Once the case is open, CPS has the option to take the baby into custody and place the baby with an approved foster family.  This is true whether there is an adoption plan in place or not.  However, there are things you can do to make sure the baby is placed with the adoptive parents and not placed in foster care:

  • Make an adoption plan before you deliver
  • Tell your adoption attorney or agency about drug use ahead of time so they can protect you
  • Discharge baby to the adoptive parents 
  • Sign irrevocable consent documents as soon as possible

California law says that CPS cannot take a baby into custody if the birth mother has an adoption plan in place at the time of delivery.  If you make your plan at the hospital, CPS might be called, so make a plan ahead of time.  There are steps that an attorney can take ahead of time to protect you and your baby and make sure that CPS will not take the baby into custody.

CPS will not have a reason to take your baby into custody if they have proof that the baby will be discharged to the adoptive parents.  This is especially true if your relinquishment is irrevocable.  Again, planning ahead of time is critical.

What if there’s an open CPS case involving your other kids?

There’s a good chance that CPS will take your baby into custody if other children in the family are already in the system.  It is possible that CPS will allow an adoption plan to move forward in these circumstances.  Again, planning is key.  I’ve been successful in working with CPS to allow a woman to make an adoption plan for her baby, even when other children are in the system.  

Make a solid adoption plan

In California, if an adoption plan is in place, it’s less likely that a newborn will pass into the care of Child Protective Services.  Making a plan shows a commitment to parenting, and CPS likes to see this.  Their job is to make sure the child is not going to an unsafe environment.  No one likes to take a child from its parents involuntarily.  If you can make this plan for them, their job will be a lot easier.  I can help.make a solid adoption plan

California Child Protective Services:

Sacramento County Adoptions:

US Department of Health Child Welfare Gateway:

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Are you pregnant and thinking about adoption for your baby? I can help. You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information. Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption. I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.


Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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