BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                    AB 2872

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          2872 (Patterson)

          As Amended  August 4, 2016

          Majority vote

          |ASSEMBLY:  |79-0  |(May 5, 2016)  |SENATE: | 38-0 |(August 15,      |
          |           |      |               |        |      |2016)            |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |
          |           |      |               |        |      |                 |

          Original Committee Reference:  JUD.

          SUMMARY:  Makes changes to adoption processes.  Specifically,  
          this bill:  

          1)Clarifies that the investigation required as part of a  
            stepparent adoption may be, at the request of the adoption  
            petitioner, completed by a licensed social worker or therapist  
            or a private adoption agency, in which case the petitioner is  
            not required to pay any investigation fees.  Provides that if  
            the petitioner does not request that a licensed social worker  
            or therapist or a private adoption agency complete the  
            investigation, the court may collect an investigation fee and  
            assign a probation officer, court investigator or, if so  
            authorized by the county board of supervisors, the county  
            welfare department to complete the investigation.

          2)Requires, at the request of a birth parent of a newborn, that  


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            appropriate hospital personnel complete a Health Facility  
            Minor Release (HFMR) Report, which allows a hospital to  
            release a minor to someone other than the parents, and provide  
            copies of the report as specified.  Provides that hospital  
            personnel may not refuse to complete the report, even if the  
            newborn is ineligible for release at that time.

          3)Provides that a statutorily-authorized or court-appointed  
            investigator, who is conducting an investigation a) as part of  
            a stepparent adoption, b) as part of a court procedure to  
            terminate parental rights in order to identify alleged fathers  
            and presumed parents, or c) as part of a court procedure to  
            free a child from parental custody and control, is authorized  
            to inspect a juvenile court case file, provided that the  
            investigator is acting within the scope of his or her  
            investigative duties for an active case.

          4)Adds chaptering out language for AB 1945 (Mark Stone) of the  
            current legislative session.

          The Senate amendments make minor, technical changes to the HFMR  
          requirement and add chaptering out language.

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Provides a streamlined procedure for a stepparent to adopt a  
            stepchild.  Requires an investigation of the proposed  
            stepparent adoption to be prepared, as specified, by  
            particular individuals, and payment of an investigation fee,  
            but does not require a homestudy, unless the court orders  
            otherwise.  (Family Code Section 9000 et seq.) 

          2)Provides that a peace officer may, without warrant, take a  
            minor who is in the hospital into temporary custody if release  
            of the minor to a prospective adoptive parent or a  
            representative of a licensed adoption agency poses an  


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            immediate danger to the child's health or safety.  (Welfare &  
            Institutions Code Section (WIC) 305.6 (a).)

          3)Notwithstanding 2) above, provides that a peace officer may  
            not, without a warrant, take into custody a newborn who is in  
            the hospital if, among other things, all of the following  

             a)   The newborn or birth mother tested positive for illegal  

             b)   The newborn is the subject of a proposed adoption.

             c)   An HFMR Report has been completed by the hospital and  
               signed as required.  Provides that the HFMR Report does not  
               constitute consent to adoption or relinquishment of  
               parental rights and that the birth parents may reclaim the  
               child at any time, as provided.

             d)   Release of the newborn to a prospective adoptive parent  
               or an authorized representative of a licensed adoption  
               agency does not pose an immediate danger to the child.

             e)   The prospective adoptive parents or the representative  
               of a licensed adoption agency have provided the peace  
               officer in the hospital seeking to take custody of the  
               newborn with, among other things, a fully executed HFMR  
               Report.  (WIC 305.6 (b).)

          4)Limits access to juvenile case files, as defined, to specified  
            individuals and officials, including the child's parent or  
            guardian, attorneys for the parties, court and state  
            personnel, including law enforcement and child protective  
            services, and school district officials.  Allows a  
            court-appointed investigator when acting within the scope of  


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            his or her duties in a guardianship case to inspect the  
            juvenile court case file in that case.  Prohibits any party  
            authorized to inspect a dependency court case file from  
            disseminating the file or its contents unless otherwise  
            permitted.  (WIC 827.) 

          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, pursuant to Senate Rule 28.8, negligible state costs.

          COMMENTS:  This is the Academy of California Adoption Lawyers'  
          annual bill to help better facilitate adoptions in California.   
          This bill seeks to make three changes to the law.  First, it  
          clarifies who may conduct a stepparent adoption investigation  
          and makes clear that if the stepparent is using a private  
          investigator, then he or she does not have to pay the court an  
          investigation fee for a public investigator.  Second, the bill  
          helps make the process for prospective adoptive parents to take  
          home a drug-exposed newborn easier by requiring hospitals to  
          complete a required form.  Finally the bill ensures that  
          specified investigators, whether court-order or statutorily  
          required and generally used during the adoption process, are  
          able to examine the relevant child's juvenile court case file. 

          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 319-2334  FN: