The Florida adoption process consists of seven key steps for those who are considering adopting a child. Here’s how to adopt in Florida:
First, you’ll need to consider your options for growing your family. While the Florida adoption process is one such family-building option, it’s not the right option for every family.
The process of adoption has both unique challenges and benefits. Before you begin the process of adopting a child in Florida, you need to be completely committed to adoption as your path to parenthood.
You’ll also need to be unified as a couple in this decision before you move forward. Any lingering grief from prior child loss or infertility will need to be addressed before you can move away from the old dream of a having a child biologically, and towards your new dream of having a child through adoption in Florida.
If you’ve committed yourself to the adoption process in Florida, then your next step is to decide which type of adoption is right for you. The requirements for adoption will vary based on the form of adoption.
There are three major types of adoption in Florida:
Domestic adoption agencies work with the adoption of infants within Florida and across the United States. Domestic adoption agencies like American Adoptions typically provide everything you need to complete the entire adoption process. This is ideal for those who don’t know how to adopt a child in Florida.
American Adoptions’ services include 24/7 counseling for birth parents, financial protection and home studies for adoptive parents in Florida, post-adoption birth parent benefits and more. We’re able to complete a Florida infant adoption from start to finish.
Although most children in Florida foster care are ultimately reunited with their biological family, 25 percent of Florida kids in foster care will become eligible for foster care adoption. Many of these children are part of a sibling group, have additional needs, or are older children.
Foster care adoption requirements differ from other types of adoption in Florida. Learn more about how to adopt from foster care or foster-to-adopt here.
The adoption requirements, restrictions and costs to adopt a child internationally will depend on the country you adopt from as well as the Florida international adoption agency you work with. International adoption requires that you meet U.S. adoption requirements in addition to the child’s country’s adoption requirements, which may vary.
Learn more about international adoption here.
Choosing the professional that you work with to complete your Florida adoption is the most important step of how to adopt a baby. Your adoption professional is the one who guides you through your adoption journey, and is ultimately responsible for the quality of your experience and adoption education.
There are five types of adoption professionals that can help show you how to adopt a baby in Florida:
Adoption facilitators are under tight restrictions in almost every state and are illegal in several states due to their predatory practices. In Florida, they’re required to report all fees and expenses paid to the court and provide the adoptive family with information about the child’s background. Although Florida has more laws to keep adoption facilitators in check than some states, working with a facilitator can be risky.
A collective of Florida adoption lawyers are able to handle all of the legal aspects of your adoption. They may work with a licensed Florida adoption agency for child placement, counseling and home study services that a law firm can’t provide.
Although the name suggests they operate similarly to adoption law firms, adoption law centers are rarely reviewed, certified, or regulated the way properly-supervised adoption professionals are in Florida. This can expose birth and adoptive families to malpractice.
Local adoption agencies are licensed by the state of Florida. This limits their reach to birth and adoptive families within the immediate area, so adoption wait times may be longer, but there may be the opportunity for more face-to-face interaction.
Reviewed, regulated and licensed in multiple states, national adoption agencies like American Adoptions are able to work with birth and adoptive parents in all 50 states. This limits financial risk and decreases adoption wait times. Many national adoption agencies, like American Adoptions, can also complete home studies for waiting adoptive parents in Florida.
At this stage in the adoption process, the paperwork you’ve likely heard about begins in earnest. American Adoptions’ birth and adoptive parents will fill out their Adoption Planning Questionnaires (APQs) to explore what they envision for their adoption.
You’ll also create an adoptive family profile, complete your Florida adoption home study process and take any necessary training courses to prepare to become an adoptive parent. Once you’ve been approved to adopt after completing these steps, you’ll be considered for adoption opportunities with expectant mothers as an “active waiting family.”
Once you’ve entered into that “active” stage, you’re waiting for an adoption opportunity. An expectant mother will choose you after viewing your adoption profile. Expectant mothers are shown your profile if you have similar hopes for the adoption, including:
wanting the same level of post-adoption contact
your comfort level with genetic medical histories of varying types
your flexibility on the gender and race of your child
It’s important to remember that every expectant mother creating an adoption plan is looking for something different in prospective adoptive parents for her child, so there is no such thing as the “perfect” adoption profile.
Seventy-five percent of people who have adopted through American Adoptions were placed with a child within one to 12 months after becoming active with the agency, so wait times are generally short. Your adoption wait time will be most affected by your openness to a range of prospective birth mothers.
After you’ve been paired with an expectant mother, you may have the opportunity to get to know each other more leading up to the birth, depending on her comfort level and the amount of openness she wants in her adoption. Once the baby is born, the biological mother may sign her consent to the adoption at any time; but not before. The birth father, however, may give his consent before the baby is born.
Only after a birth mother issues her consent to the adoption are her parental rights terminated and placement occurs. She is under no obligation to consent to the adoption until that point in time.
For adoptions that occur across state lines, you’ll have to complete the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) process before you can return home to Florida following placement with your child. Adopting a child within Florida means that the additional step of ICPC won’t be necessary for your adoption.
Once you’re home with your child, your Florida adoption home study professional will return for the post-placement in-home visits that take place between placement and the adoption finalization. This is to check up on the whole family to make sure that everyone is adjusting well.
In the meantime, your Florida adoption attorney will contact you to schedule an adoption finalization hearing in your local circuit court, which maintains jurisdiction for all adoption hearings in the state of Florida. Typically, the adoptive family, your adoption attorney, and sometimes your social worker will attend the finalization hearing. At the hearing, the judge will officially grant your parental rights with a final adoption decree.
This legally completes the Florida adoption process, and formally recognizes your child’s place in your family.
Although the legal process of adoption in Florida ends with adoption finalization, the adoption process never truly ends. It’s a lifelong journey of discovery for both birth and adoptive families.
Whenever possible, open adoptions are encouraged. Studies have shown them to be highly beneficial for everyone involved, most importantly the adoptee. An open adoption in Florida allows for the lines of communication to stay open on some level between the birth and adoptive family.
During the adoption planning process, adoptive and birth parents are paired together keeping in mind the amount of contact they each want in their adoption. Open adoptions can include exchanging letters, calls, photos, texts, emails and visits at varying levels of frequency. There’s no strict definition of an open adoption. It’s simply whatever the birth and adoptive family want it to look like. Every relationship is unique!
For birth and adoptive families who prefer a semi-open adoption, American Adoptions can facilitate post-placement contact between the parties for up to 18 years.
Want to learn more about how to adopt a child in Florida? Call 1-800-ADOPTION now.
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