An adoption attorney is a lawyer who assists you during the placement of a child and guides you throughout the process. Having an adoption attorney is crucial for anyone seeking to adopt because there are many steps throughout the adoption process, steps that can seem complicated and confusing at times. An adoption attorney will not only help you navigate the various steps but also help you better understand the steps as well.
The state of Florida has twenty different circuits, so that is twenty different ways of filing at least twenty-four required documents, with twenty-four being the minimum number. In an adoption, you have three main parties: the birth mother, the birth father, and the adoptive parents. Here are some examples of the different types of documents the different parties have to fill out and file with the court:
- Birth Mother: Florida Affidavit of Adoption, Indian Child Welfare Act, Consent for Adoption Entity to File, Consent for Adoption Entity to File Petition for Termination of Parental Rights, Waiver of Service of Pleadings and Notice, Waiver of Venue, Sworn Statement RE: Identity Location of Birth Father, Affidavit for Out-of-State Placement, Affidavit of Financial Need, Written Disclosure of the State Registry, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and Waiver of Legal Counsel
- Birth Father: Florida Affidavit of Adoption, Indian Child Welfare Act, Affidavit of Non-Paternity or Consent, Written Disclosure of the State Registry, and Waiver of Legal Counsel
- Adoptive Parents: Florida Affidavit of Adoption, Written Disclosure of the State Registry, Statement of Risks in At-Risk Adoption, Placement Agreement and Acknowledgement of Medical Information and Release of Confidentiality, and Acceptance of Medical Decisions
In addition to these documents that must be filled out by the respective parties, these petitions must be filed with the court as well: Order Approving Placement, Termination of Parental Rights, Petition for Adoption, Final Order of Adoption, and Disposition.
Now let’s do the math. 20 circuits x 6 judges (average) x 24 filings (minimum) x 80 attorneys (average) = 230,400 different document interpretations. [Thanks to my good friend and fellow adoption attorney, Elizabeth Berkowitz, for doing the math for me!] Why does all of this matter, you ask? Adoption attorneys have an obligation to follow uniformity in Florida statutory compliance. When adoption attorneys follow statutory compliance, it allows for good court decisions, good law, procedural conformity, and increases their strength as an adoption advocacy group, which in turn increases the success of adoptions in Florida.
On the other hand, let’s take another look at the different documents that must be filled out by the respective parties: Written Disclosure of the State Registry; Affidavit of Non-Paternity or Consent; Placement Agreement and Acknowledgement of Medical Information and Release of Confidentiality; Petition for Termination of Parental Rights. These documents are packed with legalese, which is the technical language used in legal documents that is usually difficult to understand… unless you are an attorney! An adoption attorney can help translate the legalese in the various documents, so the parties can more easily understand what they are filling out and why.
In order for the state to officially recognize and protect an adoption, the adoption process requires legal formalities. Because an adoption attorney is familiar with these formalities, she can aid you in understanding the legal process and guide you in the right direction. Essentially, having an adoption attorney significantly increases if not guarantees a successful adoption for you and your family.