Record your efforts to find the other parent

You may know who the alleged father is but you do not know his current whereabouts and have no way of contacting him. In this situation, before moving forward, you must try to find him and document all efforts to locate him.

Before you start

In this situation, you can still move forward with a stepparent adoption, but first you must do everything you can to find the alleged father and give him notice of the adoption. You must write down all of your efforts in detail as you will be preparing a document which will be filed with the court.

The court calls this document a Declaration. This Declaration is signed under penalty of perjury which means that it is treated the same way as testifying under oath in a court of law. You must be truthful and accurate.

The Declaration must be very specific. You must tell the court what you know about the alleged father and why you cannot locate him. You must explain to the court each and every step you took to search for and find the alleged father.

How and where to search for the alleged father

  • Conduct your search

    Remember to write down the date, time, and source you use and keep any printouts of information you receive back (even if the source indicates there is no match, or no information can be found).

    1. Start by sending a certified letter with return receipt requested. It should be addressed to the other parent at their last known address. Be sure to check the box that says "addressee only.” This will help the delivery person to ask that only the person on the address label sign for it and not someone else in the household. 
    2. If you know for sure that the other parent left that last known address, send a letter to that address and write on the envelope: “Do not forward. Address correction requested.” If the other parent left a forwarding address, the post office will return the letter to you with the new address. 
    3. Keep the information that is returned to you because you will attach it to your Declaration as proof that they no longer live there. 
  • Use a variety of sources to find the alleged father

    Here are some examples of sources you can use to locate the person. Remember to document who you contacted, the date, and the outcome of that contact.

    • Contact his friends and family members  
    • Do an internet search for the other parent’s name (if you have his last known whereabouts, include the city and state too). Start with a broad search using Google or another browser. Then use free sites such as,, White pages on-line, etc. You can also use a paid search site if the free sites do not provide contact information. Some paid sites include Lexis/Nexis, Accurint, and US Search.   
    • Call the telephone directory in any city where the parent may be living or use the on-line telephone directory in that city 
    • If you’ve filed for child support before, contact the Department of Child Support Services in your county to see if they have information on the other parent. You may have to send your request in writing.
    • Contact (either on-line or in-person) the county recorder’s office to see if you can search for publicly available property documents
    • See if your county has a paternity registry or database you can search 
    • If you have reason to believe the alleged father may be in prison or jail, call the jail where you believe he may be and ask if he is there. You can also conduct an “Inmate Search” in the state where you believe he may be incarcerated. In California use: 

    You can also pay a private investigator or attorney services company to do the search for you.  They will provide you with a Declaration which can be filed with the court, along with the Application and Order to Dispense with Further Notice of Adoption Planning. 

  • Prepare a Declaration

    You can use this form to create the Declaration (form MC-030).


    • The first couple of sentences or paragraphs should explain to the court some basic information about the child, the alleged father, whether there are any other possible fathers and the mother's relationship (if any) with the alleged father
    • On the form, or on a separate sheet of paper if necessary, write down each step you took to find the person, the date and time, and the results.
    • The mother must sign the form at the bottom
    This Declaration is similar to testimony given in court. It is required to be signed under oath and under penalty of perjury. This means that if you lie on the form, you could be fined by the court and/or be subject to time in jail. 
  • Get help if you need it

    Your court’s Self-Help Center may be able to help you prepare the Declaration and make sure it’s complete. 

Stepparent adoption

What’s next?

If you locate the alleged father, you’ll need to contact him and let him know about the adoption to see if you can get his consent. If you don’t find him, you may move forward by first asking the court to end (terminate) his parental rights. 

success alert banner:

Have a question about Stepparent Adoption?

Look for a "Chat Now" button in the right bottom corner of your screen. If you don’t see it, disable any pop-up/ad blockers on your browser.