Are you considering adoption?
Adoption is an extremely rewarding opportunity for both parents and adopted children. It allows you to expand your family and giving a loving home to a child who does not have one.
Some couples are wary of adoption after hearing that it is a confusing and lengthy process. However, adoption agencies and family lawyers can help to make the process timely and the transition smooth.
Below are 5 things you should know about adoption in Florida before starting the process:
The time to complete an adoption through the state of Florida varies, but can take less than nine months.
There are a few steps required to complete a Florida adoption, but the Florida Department of Children and Families (FDCF) states that the process can be completed within nine months. These steps include:
- Finding an adoption worker. Florida’s Adoption Information Center will set you up with an adoption worker in your area. The adoption worker guides you through the adoption process, answers any questions you might have, and conducts home studies.
- Orientation. Orientation includes a presentation and a meet-and-greet with counselors and parents who have already adopted children.
- Preparation course. These required courses are available on nights and weekends. Preparation courses “train” you for adoption, educating and preparing you for any issues that may come up during the adoption process or after it is finished.
- Home study. Home studies include a visit from your adoption worker to ensure your house is safe and suited for adoption. Background checks of everyone living in the home will also be conducted. After the home study is completed, you will be notified of your approval.
- Finding the right match. You will be able to learn more about the children who are available for adoption on the internet and at recruitment events. When you find a child that you think will fit into your family, you can meet with the child and he or she can visit your home. Visits are short at first, and then are extended when appropriate.
- Official Placement. You, the child, and your adoption worker will determine the right time for placement. Your adoption worker will continue to visit your home after placement to assure that the child’s transition is going smoothly.
- Finalizing the Adoption. Your final petition for adoption must be filed within 60 days of home placement, but the final hearing cannot be held until the child has been placed in your home for 90 days.
At this hearing, the biological parents’ rights are completely surrendered to you, and the child is able to get a new birth certificate. On this new birth certificate, you will be listed as the child’s parents.
Recent laws have changed who can adopt children in Florida.
There are few limitations on who can begin the adoption process. As long as a person can provide a loving home and financial stability, they are considered qualified to adopt. This applies to married, single, and divorced people.
In 2015, the ban on LGBT individuals and couples adopting in Florida was lifted and removed from Florida law.
People with physical disabilities can also adopt children, provided that their disability does not prevent them from being a suitable parent.
In Florida, a “special needs” child does not mean he or she has a disability.
“Special needs” children are eligible for financial assistance while they are in the process of being adopted. The following criteria may qualify a child as having “special needs”:
- 8+ years old
- African-American or mixed race
- Mental, physical, emotionally handicapped
- A child with special emotional ties to his/her biological parents or foster parents
Adopting from the state allows you to have access to a child’s comprehensive case history.
When you have found a child that you think is a match, you will be supplied with the child’s full case history. In the case history, you will receive thorough information about the child’s past foster home placements, developmental level, and medical history. The case history also includes information on the child’s personality.
Adoption is less expensive than you may think.
Florida does not charge fees for pre-adoption training, home studies, and placement. You may even be reimbursed by the state for birth certificate fees and travel expenses. Most of your expenses will come from attorney fees and court costs – which is why finding a skilled, affordable family lawyer is so important. The right attorney will be able to make the process faster, more efficient, and eliminate a lot of the stress you might otherwise experience.