In 2020, California courts processed 20 percent more adoptions thanks to a mix of remote proceedings, stipulated orders, and in-person hearings.
The data was included in a report presented at the Judicial Council’s meeting on Nov. 19. Following the presentation, the council proclaimed November “Court Adoption and Permanency Month,” as it has every year since 1999.
“Children are the most vulnerable yet resilient among us,” said Los Angeles Judge Amy Pellman, co-chair of the council’s Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee. Judge Pellman was instrumental in creating National Adoption Day.
Numbers of Adoptions Increased
Data from the California Child Welfare Indicators Project shows 6,512 children were adopted from July 2020 to June 2021, compared to 5,400 children the year prior (July 2019–June 2020).
Several factors attribute to the rise, including emergency rules approved by the Judicial Council enabling courts to hold remote proceedings in family law and other court proceedings.
More Children Need Permanent Homes
Each year in California, nearly 500,000 reports are made of child abuse and neglect, leading to about 20,000 youth going into the foster care system for the first time. Currently, more than 60,000 children in the state are living apart from their families in child welfare-supervised, out-of-home care. Forty percent of these children have been in foster care for more than two years.
Of the approximate 23,000 children who were able to leave foster care in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020:
- More than 50% (11,500) were reunited with their families,
- almost 23% (5,400) were adopted,
- and 11% (2,500+) achieved permanence through legal guardianships (slightly more than half were with relatives).
Improving the Lives of Foster Children
For children who remain in foster care, a collaboration of the Judicial Council, California Department of Social Services, and other state organizations provides training to help family members or significant others maintain a permanent and responsible role in a youth’s life. Experience shows that without permanent connections, youth aging out of foster care face even more overwhelming odds against a successful adulthood.