Interested in adopting a child in Florida? Please read below for important information regarding the adoption process.

1. Is adoption right for you?

Adoption can be an amazing and wonderful way to grow your family. It creates unique opportunities for children and families alike. If adopting a baby is something you are thinking about, please take the time to research and understand the process, as it can be quite complex. The very first step when considering adoption is finding out if it is truly right for you and your family. There will definitely by challenges to face and hurdles to overcome. Doing your research and due diligence will be important as you move forward down whatever path is best for you.

If adopting a child is something you are considering, please take some time to read the information below.

2. Types of Adoptions – What is your type?

Private, Domestic Adoption
A domestic adoption is an adoption within the United States that legalizes the relationship between a baby or child and a parent. If this is something you have been thinking about for a while and are finally ready to seriously consider it, you will want to find and work with a reputable adoption agency. Working with a professional will ensure you get all the information you need and the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible. Things will come up and road blocks may appear, but having someone in your corner will help you navigate the road to adopting a child.

International Adoption
Many couples and families look outside our borders to other countries when considering adoption. While international adoptions are wonderful and exciting, there are some things to look at and research that will need to be done before heading into the process. International adoptions can be more expensive than domestic adoptions. There will be different rules and regulations for each different country you are interested in looking at. Governments typically control these adoptions, and sometimes it can be difficult and emotionally draining when working with them through the process. Aligning yourself with a trustworthy agency or professional will be important to your journey being an easier one if international adoption is something you are considering.

Foster Care Adoption
If you are considering adoption in Florida, fostering a child might be something to look into as it offers so many wonderful benefits. Community support, common interests and the interest in adopting older children are just some of the highlights of fostering in Florida.

Affordability is also something to consider including help with health care, college tuition, possible monthly financial support and federal adoption tax credit. As well as, if you are interested in adopting a Florida state foster child and are a state employee or eligible applicant, you could receive a one-time lump sum of money with the Adoption Benefit Program for Qualifying State Employees. This can be used to put towards whatever is needed to make the process a smooth and easy one for everyone involved.

If adoption seems daunting to you there is always an opportunity to become a foster parent first and foster children who are in the between stages, whether waiting to be adopted or waiting to be placed back with their biological family. Becoming a foster parent does not require you to adopt the child permanently but if for whatever reason that child does not make it back to their biological family you may start down the road to adopting.

Florida Foster Adoption Requirements include:
a. You may be single, married or divorced
b. You must be at least 21 years old
c. Must attend a foster care Florida orientation
d. Financially stable and able to handle current situation or any emergencies that may come up in the future
e. Homes must pass a health inspection
f. Attend Florida foster care training classes and have 20 to 30 hours of training experience
g. Pass and clear all child abuse and criminal clearance checks
h. Prospective foster parents will need to meet with a licensed social worker and complete an in-depth home study to determine eligibility

The road to adoption in Florida can usually be completed in 9 months or so and includes the following –
a. Call
b. Orientation
c. Preparation Course
d. Home Study
e. Approval
f. Searching for the right match
g. Finding a Match
h. Placement Supervision
i. Finalization

3. Finding the Florida Adoption Agency or Professional that’s right for you

The first big step in your adoption journey is to find an agency or professional that fits you and what you want your journey to look like. It’s important to find someone who you feel will be in your corner and be your support system through the entire process. There will be ups and downs and twists and turns… every great love story has them! Through it all, you want to know that your adoption professional is there for you and will help lead you down the right path.

Whether you choose a Florida adoption facilitator, an adoption law firm, or an adoption agency, make sure to interview and ask questions before you make your selection. Whoever it is should be open and honest with you about everything within the adoption process.

Once you have made your choice, they will begin your adoption journey by helping to figure out your preferences, what it is you and your partner/family are looking for. Are you interested in an open or semi-open adoption? Is ethnicity important to you? Do you want a boy or girl? They will also help guide you through birth mother situations and where you can and should help in certain circumstances.

Your adoption professional is your go-to for everything involved in your adoption journey. They are your support system and will be there to help you through it all.

4. Florida Home Study Process

An Adoption Home Study is required by law in all states as well as in all international adoptions. It is the screening process of the home and life of the couple or family wanting to adopt a child. This happens prior to the adoption taking place.

During the home study process the agency conducting it will have paperwork for you to fill out and several interviews will happen. An adoption education program will be required for you to go through as well as a home visit. During the visit they will assess your home for safety and stability for all involved. Usually a tour will be given so they can see where the baby or child will be sleeping. If you have any pets they may ask for vet records and such to review.

The home study process can definitely be a positive experience, but can also be overwhelming, especially if you have not gone through one before. Just remember this is the start of your adoption journey. Once completed it will pave the way for a wonderful and heartwarming experience for all involved!

5. Adoption Opportunity

A prospective birth mother will review your profile and see if you have similar wants and needs. If she feels you might be a good fit her, then a meeting will be scheduled, either in person or on the phone. This is a perfect time to ask any questions you have and it’s important that you are as open and honest as possible. Are you both on the same page regarding the level of openness after the adoption is complete? Are you open to a boy or girl? Talking about medical history will be important as well. Getting to know the birth mother and the life she envisions for her child will be a central point of your conversation.

The more open you are to everything, the more attractive you will be to birth mothers. The more birth mothers who see your profiles, the more opportunity you’ll have to make a “match.”.

6. Finding a Match

Being chosen by a birth mother as the parents she wants to raise her child is a wonderful, gigantic and overwhelming moment! You will be notified by your adoption professional who will then move you into the next phase of the process. If the baby is born in Florida, the mother has 48 hours to wait before she can legally consent to the adoption of her baby. This will undoubtedly be the hardest part of the process for you! Keep in mind this is mandatory in the state of Florida. Once this waiting period is over and the birth mother terminates her parental rights, it cannot be reversed.

7. Adoption Finalization process

Within a week of taking the baby home the post-placement visits from the home study entity will begin. There are a total of 4 visits during the finalization process. These will take place over a few months so everyone involved can see the settling in process and see how the family and child are adjusting to their new life together. Once the visits are complete, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) (if applicable) will be collected and the rights of the birth parents terminated. Once the termination has happened, the hearing for finalization will occur. Your adoption professional or adoption attorney will schedule a hearing date/court appearance for you. This will take place either at the local juvenile court or district court. The judge will check off all that is needed to move forward including the child being with the adoptive parent/s for 3 months to a year. This can vary state by state, however in Florida the settling in period can take the better part of a year. Once everything has been cleared, the adoptive parents will legally have adopted the child.

8. Placement and Life after

You have just legally adopted a child! The finalization hearing is over and life can move forward and your new family can start getting to know each other! This will be an exciting and wonderful time in everyone’s lives including the birth mother’s if you have decided on an open adoption. Open adoptions are increasingly becoming the norm with adoptions as they have found it to be incredibly positive for all involved. Not only does the birth mother get to stay in her child’s life but you as a family will get to experience the love and connection of the bond that will be shared. This will benefit the child immensely and undoubtedly shape them into a loving caring adult! He/she will get to know their birth mother and come to understand the enormous amount of love she had for them when she made the unselfish choice to place them in your family. Depending on the type of open relationship that was decided on earlier in the adoption process you can expect to share milestone moments through pictures and videos with the birth mother. She may be at birthday parties, school events and graduations. Staying connected in this way will have a positive long lasting effect on not only the child’s life but yours as a family as well.

For these reasons and more open adoptions are strongly encouraged by adoption professionals these days. Making a child feel loved and wanted always, is at the end of everything, the most important factor to consider. Paving the way for them to feel loved, encouraged, successful, and ultimately have a beautiful life, is what we all want and what we all deserve.

For more information or questions regarding the adoption process in Florida please call us at 1-866-595-0908. Adoption Network Law Center is here to help in every way we can.