The first step to adopting in any state is to determine all of your options. Prospective adoptive families can adopt an infant through foster care or through an adoption agency. Adoption agencies partner with birth parents in finding potential adoptive families. This process can be lengthy and expensive with adoptions costing families $30,000-40,000.
Adopting through foster care is very inexpensive as the state pays foster parents to care for children who are under custody of the state. The state also pays for the child’s medical care until the child is adopted. Certain children may qualify for adoption assistance, which covers all court fees and medical care and allows the foster parents to continue getting monthly subsidies until the child turns 18. Those looking to become foster parents should keep in mind that the purpose of foster care is to reunite children with their birth parents, while the purpose of adopting through an agency is for the adoptive family to keep the infant.
Choosing either route of adoption can be risky. You may get a foster child into your home, go through Termination of Parental Rights (TPR), and move toward adopting the child. You may also have a foster child in your home for months to years only to have to return the child to the birth parents. When you get a child placed in your home, there is no way of knowing which way the case will go, unless you get a child placed into your home whose parents have already terminated rights or the state is already moving in that direction. When adopting through an agency in Florida, you could give thousands of dollars to the adoption agency only to have the birth mother change her mind.
I am a foster parent, and our first placement was a set of newborn twins who had been exposed to drugs. The mother was already in the process of a private adoption when we became involved. Although we did not get to adopt the babies, most of the families who were in my foster care training classes ended up adopting the infants that were placed in their homes. Foster care training courses will tell you that you most likely will not get to adopt the children placed in your home; however, with the opioid addiction crisis that is currently affecting our country, I have found that not to be true. In my experience, 90 percent of my friends who are foster parents adopted their foster children because the birth parents did not make the appropriate lifestyle changes.
Adoption laws are different in different states. Contact various adoption/family law attorneys in various states to get an idea about the adoption process in that state. You do not have to adopt in the state you live in. A good adoption attorney can also recommend various adoption agencies he or she has worked with and tell you the ins and outs of the local agencies. It is also a good idea to find adoption support groups in the state you are looking to adopt in and speak to people who have adopted from various agencies. Each agency has different practices and rules, as well as varying fees. Some agencies will give you a full refund if a birth parent decides not to give up the baby, while some will keep all of the fees, and others will keep the money but apply it to a future match.
Florida, like most other states, requires training for adoptive parents and a home study. The agency overseeing the adoption process is responsible for performing training, background check, and the home study. A home study involves interviewing references of your choosing, interviewing you and other adults in your household, doing a safety check of the home, and doing routine checks after placement/adoption.
When adopting through an agency, the birth mother chooses the adoptive family and can choose as soon as she finds out she is pregnant; however, the adoption cannot be finalized until after the baby is born. The birth mother can sign the adoption papers 48 hours after the birth of the child. If the mother is under medication or in another medical state that may affect her decision-making ability, then the 48 hours begins when she is no longer under the influence of that medication or medical condition. Once a birth mother signs the adoption papers, she cannot change her mind unless she can prove that she was forced to do so or signed when she was not mentally capable of doing so.
The following websites are good resources for adopting in Florida:
Visit Adoption by Shepherd Care if you are pregnant and considering placing your child or if you are a prospective adoptive family.