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Q. I would like to terminate my adoption with my adoptive father. I agreed to the adult adoption under false pretenses. What steps do I need to take to petition the court, and do I need a lawyer to do so? Are there any examples that I can follow? Are both my birth mother and my adopted father required to sign the petition? Also, what are the legal grounds on which a judge might grant or deny my petition? Any help and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.


A. I’m sorry to hear of your situation, Laura. The termination of a parent-child relationship created through adult adoption is possible and, compared to most court proceedings, fairly straightforward. Under California Family Code Section 9340:

a) Any person who has been adopted under this part may, upon written notice to the adoptive parent, file a petition to terminate the relationship of parent and child. The petition shall state the name and address of the petitioner, the name and address of the adoptive parent, the date and place of the adoption, and the circumstances upon which the petition is based.

(b) If the adoptive parent consents in writing to the termination, an order terminating the relationship of parent and child may be issued by the court without further notice.

(c) If the adoptive parent does not consent in writing to the termination, a written response shall be filed within 30 days of the date of mailing of the notice, and the matter shall be set for hearing. The court may require an investigation by the county probation officer or the department.

Similar to the process of creating a parent-child relationship, there are no fill-in-the-blank forms for terminating an adult adoption; you will need to draft your own pleadings. The documents that you file with the court must contain very specific language as outlined in Family Code Section 9340(a). I recommend you visit your local public law library to locate resources that provide models of these documents, which you can use as a template for drafting your own petition. You can find the public law library nearest you at

If you are certain that your adoptive parent will consent to the termination of the relationship, one option might be to include a signed and notarized affidavit to that effect (from the adoptive parent) when you file the petition. You may also want to include a proposed order for the judge to sign.

If you are unsure about your adoptive parent’s response, follow the steps outlined in Family Code Section 9340, making sure to provide written notice to the adoptive parent of your intentions.

Terminating an adult adoption seems to be a fairly straightforward process, but it will require some research and work on your part in order to prepare and file the proper documents. You do not need an attorney to complete this process, but of course it is entirely up to you. If you’d like to retain an attorney, you could start your search by visiting an online attorney directory like or consulting the Sacramento County Public Law Library’s Attorney Locators.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian