How to Adopt a Baby in Florida in 7 Simple Steps
What You Need to Know About Adopting in Florida
The adoption process is many things. There are moments of distinct joy and times of overwhelming confusion. Families face frustration, but also find new meaning and purpose in life. If you are considering adopting a baby in Florida, the process can seem overwhelming. It’s understandable to feel this way, and you’re not alone.
Fortunately, American Adoptions is here to help. We’ve guided many parents through an infant adoption in Florida, and we’re happy to do the same for you, too. You can get started anytime by calling us at 1-800-ADOPTION or contacting us online.
Please keep in mind that American Adoptions can provide all the benefits of a national adoption agency with the local touch of a local adoption agency, thanks to our Florida offices, located at:
3001 North Rocky Point Drive East, Suite 200
Tampa, FL 33607
In the meantime, you probably want answers to some of your biggest questions about adopting a child in the Sunshine State. So, we’ve created this guide to child adoption in Florida will give you a better understanding of the process. Once you know what’s going on, you’ll feel confident and prepared to jump in.
How to Adopt a Child in Florida
The Florida adoption process consists of seven key steps for those who are considering adopting a child. While every journey is different, there are some common things to expect.
So, without further ado, here’s how to adopt in Florida:
Step 1: Decide If Adoption is Right for Your Family
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.
If you have a spouse, 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 worked through before you can move away from the old dream of a having a child biologically and toward your new dream of having a child through adoption in Florida.
Step 2: Learn About Florida Adoption Requirements and the Different Types of Adoption
If you’ve committed yourself to the adopting a child in Florida, then your next step is to decide which type of adoption is right for you. The requirements for adoption that you’ll have to meet will vary based on the form of adoption you choose.
There are three major ways to adopt a child in Florida:
Domestic adoption agencies complete the adoption of infants within Florida and across the United States. Domestic adoption agencies vary in the level of service they provide. American Adoptions, for example, is a full-service agency that provides everything you need to complete the entire adoption process. This gives our hopeful parents a sense of security and confidence, as they can rely on one source to meet their needs.
American Adoptions’ services include 24/7 counseling for prospective 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 — and we’re happy to guide you through your personal journey whenever you’re ready.
Foster Care Adoption
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. If you are interested in adopting an older child in Florida, this could be the right path for you.
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.
Step 3: Pick Your FL Adoption Professional
Choosing the professional that you work with to complete your Florida adoption is the most important step of how to adopt a baby in this state. Your adoption professional is the one who guides you through your adoption journey, and they will ultimately be responsible for the quality of your experience and adoption education.
There are several types of adoption professionals that can help show you how to adopt a baby in Florida:
Adoption facilitators are strictly regulated 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 if you’re thinking of adopting a child.
Adoption Law Firms
This is a collective of Florida adoption lawyers who 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 they personally can’t provide.
Adoption Law Centers
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 prospective birth and adoptive families to malpractice and significant risk.
Local/Regional Adoption Agencies
Local adoption agencies are licensed by the state of Florida. This usually limits their reach to prospective birth and adoptive families within the immediate area, so wait times to adopt a baby in Florida may be longer, but there may be the opportunity for more face-to-face interaction.
National Adoption Agencies
Reviewed, regulated and licensed in multiple states, national adoption agencies like American Adoptions are able to work with prospective 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.
Step 4: Begin the Florida Adoption Process
At this stage in the adoption process, the paperwork you’ve likely heard about begins in earnest. American Adoptions’ prospective birth and adoptive parents will fill out their Adoption Planning Questionnaires (APQs) to explore what they envision for their infant adoption in Florida.
You’ll also create an adoptive family profile, complete your Florida adoption home study process and take any necessary training courses to become a waiting 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.”
Step 5: Enter into an Adoption Opportunity
Once you’ve entered into that “active” stage, you will wait 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
- and more
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.
You can contact a specialist anytime at 1-800-ADOPTION for more information on this stage in the Florida newborn adoption process.
Step 6: Complete Your Adoption through Finalization
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. Please remember that 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 in 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 infant adoption process and formally recognizes your child’s place in your family.
Step 7: Life After Adoption Placement
Although the legal process of adopting a baby in Florida legally ends with adoption finalization, the adoption process is never truly over. Instead, it’s a lifelong journey of discovery for both birth and adoptive families.
Whenever possible, open adoptions are encouraged. Studies have shown these kinds of adoption to be highly beneficial for everyone involved, but most importantly for the adoptee. An open baby 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 matched based on 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 our other adoption services, or are you simply curious about how to adopt a child in Florida? Our specialists are always here to help. Call 1-800-ADOPTION now or request more free adoption information now.
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