You Want To Adopt – We Want To Help
Adopting a child is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. As an adoptive parent, you must have the child(ren)’s best interests in mind and demonstrate that you are capable of the enormous responsibility parenting brings. Currently, in Florida, there are more than 800 children in foster care who are available for adoption and are desperate for a permanent family.
These children have been abandoned, neglected, abused, or have parents whose rights have been terminated. Older children and groups of siblings are the most difficult to place. We want to provide some information about Florida adoption and will outline pertinent adoption information, types of adoption, the cost of adoption, and other relevant material to provide an overview of the complex yet ultimately rewarding adoption process.
What Types of Adoption are Available?
There are several different types of adoption including:
- Open—In these types of adoptions, both the birth parents and the adoptive parents communicate regarding the child. In many cases, there are visits, telephone calls, and other types of close communication.
- Closed—In a closed adoption, the birth parents’ and adoptive parents’ identities are kept confidential, and there is no communication either prior to or following the child’s birth.
- Private—In a private adoption, a person who acts as an intermediary—lawyer, doctor, nurse, adoption facilitator, referral service, or friend, for example—takes on the task of finding a birth mother, terminating parental rights, and matching the child with adoptive parents.
- Agency—With an agency adoption, a licensed private or public adoption agency assists potential adoptive parents with finding a suitable birth mother, terminating parental rights, and finalizing the adoption. Generally, agencies will screen birth parents and provide medical histories, as well as offer additional services for both the birth and adoptive parents to make the transition easier and more successful.
- Relative—As its name implies, in a relative adoption, the adoptive parents are already related to the child in some way, such as aunts and uncles or grandparents, for example.
Adoption can also be domestic or international. Be aware, however, that international adoptions are the most complicated because adoptive parents must adhere to the laws and requirements of both their own state of residence and those of the host country where the child is a citizen.
The Adoption Process
Florida Statute §63.042 specifies who is and is not eligible to adopt. While, generally, most people can adopt, certain individuals—such as those who have committed certain types of felonies—are prohibited from adopting. Otherwise, single men and women, stepparents, married couples with or without children, unmarried couples with or without children, and same-sex couples are permitted to adopt.
There are several steps in the Florida adoption process. After the birth parents’ legal rights to the child are severed, the adoptive parents must sign up with an independent, state, or non-profit adoption agency; pass an interview and home visit; and file a petition to adopt the child. Once the court approves the adoption, the adoptive parents are the legal parents of the child with the same rights and responsibilities afforded birth parents.
What About Stepparents?
Florida law permits stepparents to adopt their own stepchildren provided certain steps are followed. Because these can be complicated, obtaining the assistance of an experienced family lawyer is crucial.
Stepparent adoption begins by determining whether the stepparent is legally permitted to adopt. Once determination has been made certifying the stepparent as legally allowed to adopt his/her stepchild, the stepparent files a petition asking the court to allow the adoption.
Among relevant supporting documentation includes consent from the noncustodial birth parent for the adoption or proof that this consent is not needed as in the case where a parent abandoned the child, has been determined to be unfit or dangerous to the child, or has had his/her parental rights already terminated.
Once the petition has been filed and notice has been given, then the proceedings can progress.
How Much Does Adoption Cost?
The cost of adoption depends on the type. Whereas private adoptions can cause in upwards of $30,000, adopting a child from Florida’s foster care system is quite affordable.
Adoptive parents are required to take a parent training class and home study course provided at no cost. Additionally, adoptive agencies may pay the court costs, attorney fees, and other one-time expenses such as birth certificate fees and travel expenses if the adoptive family cannot.
Adoptive parents are entitled to monthly financial support through Florida’s Adoption Assistance Program as well as a federal adoption tax credit. Finally, adopted children may also be eligible for free healthcare and college tuition.
Frost Law Is Here For You
Adoption is a truly rewarding yet complex process. Utilizing the services of a skilled, knowledgeable, and empathetic family law attorney for your Orlando adoption will ensure that all necessary steps are followed to achieve the best outcome.
If you are looking for an experienced adoption attorney in Florida, look no further than Frost Law. We are here to help. Call us today at 407-670-5569 or contact us on our website for a free consultation about your case.