Thank you for your patience and all your additional information
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Since you are not related to the little girl, you will have to do an agency adoption where the Department of Social Services is part of the adoption case. In these cases, the parent must give up their parental rights by signing an "Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights". Once she does that, you can move forward with the adoption. You can tell her that once she signs that Affidavit and the adoption is complete, she will no longer have to pay child support.
If she refuses to sign the Affidavit, you can ask the Court to terminate her parental rights as well as those of the biological father. You can state everything that you told me, that she abandoned her little girl 6 years ago and never cared to visit, You always encouraged her to visit, but still she never visited and never called, and that she is a daily drug user. Also state that the little girl feels safe and secure in the stable environment that you have provided, you have always been her caregiver, you are the only mother she has ever known, it would cause irreparable emotional and psychological harm to remove her from your home, and "the best interests and permanent welfare of the little girl would be served by approving the adoption". It is important to include the last phrase because that is the standard by which Judges decide these cases.
If you would like to try to do the adoption paperwork yourself, click on the website which I have provided below, it is the official "Do it Yourself" website of the California Courts. This is the instruction sheet for "How to adopt a child in California:
And here is the California Courts official website for all the adoption forms you will need:
For legal help, Call the California Bar Association and the Bar Association of the county in which you live, and ask for their "Lawyer Referral Service"; Consultations are free. Ask for the names of lawyers who charge on a sliding scale and for their "Pro Bono Committee"; these are lawyers who volunteer their time so that legal representation is available to those who ordinarily could not afford it. You can also call your County Legal Aid Society. Tell them what your problem is, speak to a few attorneys, ask questions and then select the one with whom you feel the most comfortable.
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ANDREA, JD, LLM
MEMBER, NY & PA BAR
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