Parenting through adoption is a life-changing experience. In fact, it may be the biggest life-changing experience you will ever have. And possibly the most rewarding.
Adoption provides so many benefits and unique opportunities to both change children’s lives and to enrich the life of the adoptive parent or family.
By adopting a child, you are giving that child a chance to live a fuller, better life. You are in effect, giving life to a life.
For all the good that comes through adoption, the adoption process can be confusing and frustrating. Our firm specializes in adoptions. We provide the support, knowledge, expertise, and attention to help make your adoption as smooth as possible. We’ve been here before, we know what to expect, and we know that even the small details matter.
The Adoption Process
Home Study Program
A home study determines the suitability of the intended adoptive parents. It can be completed prior to identifying the adoptive child. It is valid for one year after the date of its completion.
Issues that may be explored during an adoption study:
- Ability to provide for a child’s physical and emotional needs.
- Feelings about parenting an adopted child and the ability to make a commitment to a child placed in the home.
- Type of child family seeks to adopt.
- Family’s child rearing practices, experiences, and beliefs.
- Information concerning marital relationship, emotional, and financial status, etc.
- Description of the family’s home and community
A child cannot be placed in the home until a favorable home study is reached.
The home study must include:
What they’re saying
I still don’t believe it’s happened. We’d been thinking about adoption for 4 years and actively worked on it for more than one year. Five years. And it’s happened!”
FAQs – Adoption Information
Adoption is the legal procedure by which a child becomes part of a family other than his or her birth parents. Through court action, the parental rights of the birth parents are first terminated. Then the adoption occurs. The adoptive child has the same rights as if he or she was the biological child of the adoptive parents.
There are several different types of adoption and each have slightly different rules.
1) Adult adoption
2) Stepparent adoption
3) Close relative adoption
4) Agency or intermediary adoption
The procedures governing stepparent and relative adoption generally waive many of the requirements for non-relative adoptions.
An agency or intermediary adoption (collectively “adoption entity”) can be undertaken by the department, a child-caring agency, a Florida child-placing agency, or an attorney.
Florida statutes specifically state the duties of the attorney. These duties are to “protect and promote the well-being of the persons being adopted and their parents and prospective adoptive parents by promoting certainty, finality, and permanency” for all involved. F.S. 63.039(1).
These duties include:
• providing a written initial disclosure to the prospective adoptive parent and birth parents;
• obtaining consent in the time and manner required;
• including in the petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption and all information required;
• obtaining and filing the affidavit of inquiry, if required;
• conducting a diligent search and filing an affidavit if the location of the person whose consent is required is unknown;
• serving the petition and notice of hearing to termination parental rights; obtaining the written waiver of venue, if required;
• provided an adoption disclosure statement to all persons required. Id.
Yes. The adoption process can be very risky, yet very rewarding. Any adoption placement may fall through even when the prospective adoption parents pay for the medical or living expenses of the birth parents. Adoption is challenging because it requires the termination of parental rights of the birth parents.
Adoption is also risky from an emotional standpoint – this is an emotional process for all parties involved. For the birth parents, the act of giving up a child is one that requires love and bravery. The emotional toll taken on the birth parents can have long-lasting effects. For the adoptive parents, the varying reasons that lead them to adoption can start the process off with anxiety. The process of not knowing the outcome until the birth mom has signed rights heightens the anxiety.
In addition, adoption is risky from a financial standpoint. The process of adoption can be expensive with home study costs, court fees, and birth parent expenses. The adoptive parent will usually not recoup any money if the birth mother decides to forgo the adoption and keep the child.
Florida law requires that the birth mother must consent.
The birth father must consent if:
• the child was conceived or born while he was married to the mother;
• the child is his by adoption;
• the child has been adjudicated by a court to be his child before a petition for termination of parental rights is filed;
• he has filed an affidavit of paternity or recorded not he child’s birth certificate;
• he is an unmarried biological father who has acknowledged in writing, in the presence of a competent witness, that he is the father, has filed this acknowledgement with the Office of Vital Statists within the set time, and demonstrates a full commitment to parental responsibilities. F.S. 63.062, 63.053.
If the unmarried biological father is known, he is entitled to receive notice of the Intended Adoption Plan and has 30 days to register with the Florida Putative Father Registry. F.S. 63.054.
By law, a birth mother cannot sign away her rights to her child until 48 hours after the child’s birth OR on the date of discharge from the hospital, whichever time is earlier. If the child is over six months old, the mom can sign at any time. F.S. 63.082(4)(b). Consent must be given by affidavit acknowledged before a notary public and in the presence of two witnesses. F.S. 63.082(4)(d).
A birth father can sign his consent any time after the child is born. If the father is a legal or biological father, he can sign an Affidavit of Non-Paternity any time before or after the child’s birth relinquishing rights. FS 63.082(4)(1). Consent must be given by affidavit acknowledged before a notary public and in the presence of two witnesses. F.S. 63.082(4)(d)
If the child is younger than six months, the consent can only be withdrawn if the court finds that it was obtained by fraud or duress. FS 63.082(4)b). If the child is older than six months when consent is executed, it is subject to a revocation of three business days. FS 63.082(4)(c).
Generally, relatives of the birth parents lose any rights to the child once the child is adopted, unless agreed to otherwise. F.S. 63.172.
The birth mother must complete a report called the Family, Social, and Medical History of the Child to be Adopted. It contains biological and sociological information on the birth parents’. This form is attached to the petition for termination of parental rights pending adoption. F.S. 63.082(3)(a). If possible, we will obtain records from the OB/GYN and hospital. All names will be redacted.
The birth parents will be given your family profile. All names will be redacted.
Florida law allows the prospective adoptive parent to pay necessary medical expenses for the birth of the child and the mother incidental to birth, and reasonable and necessary living and medical expenses during pregnancy and for six weeks after birth. F.S. 63.102(2)(a). Prior approval of the court for these expenses is not required unless it exceeds $5,000. F.S. 63.102(3).
Please note that these expenses may never be repaid if the birth mother does not place the child with the prospective parents. While the birth mother can sign an adoption contract that requires her to reimburse the prospective parents, many have no ability to make the payments.
The birth parents may like counseling to assist them once they have made this big decision. We will arrange counseling with a mental health professional or at a pregnancy resource center. The fees can be paid for by the prospective adoptive parents.
You can structure the adoption as you wish. There are three categories:
1. A “closed adoption” means that there is no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. The files are physically sealed.
2. An “open adoption” means that the birth parents and adoptive parents know who each other are and can stay in contact. The amount of “openness” can depend on the prospective adoptive family.
3. A “semi-open” adoption is when the birth parents and adoptive parents communicate but use non-identifying types of contact.
A final home study must be completed before the adoption becomes final, which is within 90 days after placement. F.S. 125(1).
According to Florida law, an adoption is final 30 days after the judgment terminating parental rights or 90 days after placement of the child in their home, whichever event occurs later. FS 63.122(1). This usually takes about 180 days once the baby is born.
Yes. There are additional regulations governed by the Interstate Compact of the Placement of Children that must be satisfied when adopting from another state. F.S. 409.401 et seq.
According to the IRC, adoptive parents can claim a tax credit of up to $13,170 per adopted child for qualifying options expenses, subject to the income limitation and phase out exception. IRC sec. 23. Expenses include attorney fees, court costs, home study fees, and agency fees.