3 Things You Need to Know About the Florida Adoption Process

You may have come across this article because you are searching for resources on the Florida adoption process. You may be an expectant mother or father contemplating an adoption plan for your baby. You may be a prospective adoptive family looking to build your family through adoption. As you search for answers on the intricacies of the adoption process and the Florida adoption process in particular, it is important to equip yourself with the right information so you can make the best choice for you, your baby, and your family. Understanding your options and what the journey of going through the Florida adoption process specifically entails will make it much less overwhelming or stressful as you begin the process. The important part is taking that first step to educate yourself and find out as much information as you can on the Florida adoption process and what steps are needed to complete an adoption in the state of Florida.

1. Which children are adoptable in the state of Florida?

Who can go through the Florida adoption process is a broad question to ask and it can mean different things to different members of the adoption triad. The adoption triad includes the birth mother (or birth parents), the child placed for adoption, and adoptive parent(s) or family. 

First, starting with the child, it is never too late to make an adoption plan to place your baby for adoption. Any children age 12 and older have to give consent to an adoption in Florida. This can happen in regards to stepparent adoption or adoption by siblings as just two examples of where children would give their personal consent.

Children living in the foster care system in Florida can be adopted by a prospective adoptive family if they are not able to return to the birth family. This can happen for numerous reasons. Children are eligible to go through the Florida adoption process if their parent’s rights have been permanently terminated. Sadly, some children in Florida can age out of the foster care system and never realize their right to a permanent, loving family. If you have it in your heart to adopt an older child, it is a very special thing to adopt a child who is soon going to emancipated from the foster care system without a loving forever family.

If you are interested in adopting a child from the foster care system and completing the Florida adoption process for a foster child in the state, you may be interested in first searching photo listings of children who are approved to be adopted in the state of Florida. Most of the children in photolistings are older children or those who may be in sibling groups who must be adopted together. These children are in desperate need of a forever family before they turn 18. The Florida adoption process for children living in the foster care system is slightly different than those children adopted through private infant domestic adoption, or intercountry adoption, but more on that later.

Children can also be adopted through kinship adoption (also known as relative adoption). This is when an expectant parent places their child through the Florida adoption process with a biological family member and they become the legal and adoptive parent to the child. 

Children who are not orphaned, in the foster care system, or who are having an adoption plan created for them by their birth parents may also be adopted through stepparent adoption. This is when the stepmother or stepfather can legally adopt their spouse’s child and raise them as their adoptive parent.

2. Who is eligible to adopt in the state of Florida?

According to Florida state law, single adults and married couples (jointly) may adopt through the Florida adoption process. Someone who is married may adopt as an individual without their spouse but this is rare and can only be done with the court’s approval. Obviously, by common sense, social worker and court standards it is in the very best interest of the child for both parents to adopt the child, but this can happen when one parent is already the legal or birth parent in a stepparent adoption. 

Florida law used to not allow LGBTQ+ parents to adopt a child through the Florida adoption process, but a law was overturned in 2010 and now same-sex parents can adopt a child privately through infant adoption or foster care adoption. They also can adopt internationally from some countries who allow same-sex individuals or couples to adopt.

Prospective adoptive parents must meet certain requirements to adopt a child through the Florida adoption process. All potential adoptive parents must be approved by a Florida adoption home study which includes background checks, interviews, home inspections, and more. As a fully-licensed adoption agency, the Gladney Center for Adoption can provide all the services you need to complete your home study.

Prospective adoptive parents must also meet the individual requirements to adopt established by their adoption professional as well as the requirements necessary for the type of adoption they wish to pursue.

The state of Florida does not have any specific laws regarding the age requirements for completing the Florida adoption process. There is no age minimum or maximum in the state of Florida. However, most adoption agencies will have their own requirements for the age of the prospective adoptive parents if you are using an adoption agency to create an adoption placement for your baby or to build your family through adoption. 

Most adoption agencies will also have a limit on the number of divorces you may have had before pursuing adoption. The number of years you have been married to your current spouse will also be looked at if you were married or divorced prior to marrying them. 

Adoption agencies may also have requirements on your physical and mental health, your financial situation, salary, space in the home, and how many children you already have in the family prior to pursuing this adoption.

You will complete a home study with your adoption agency or an adoption service provider who is licensed in the state of Florida if you reside there to conduct your home study report. The adoption home study is necessary for you to be approved to adopt through the Florida adoption process by a licensed social worker. The adoption home study is a long, intensive written report of the findings of the licensed social worker from your adoption agency who has met with the prospective adoptive parents on many occasions both individually and together as a couple. At least one meeting with the social worker will occur in the prospective adoptive parents’ home. This will be the time for the social worker to ensure their is room for the child in the home and the home is safe and appropriately child proofed based on the age of the child. If there are other adults living in the home, they too will also will be interviewed by the licensed social worker.

On average, the adoption home study process in Florida can take approximately four to six months to complete, but it can take longer or shorter depending on the agency and type of adoption you are completing through the Florida adoption process. The home study Florida adoption process entails the entirety of paperwork from the written home study report. With regards to the Florida adoption process, the following documentation is included in the final home study report:

  • Personal biographies and write-ups on each member of the household, but specifically on the adoptive parents. This will include personal family history, a look at their faith, their educational background, upbringing, dreams for their child, and any issues in the marriage and in parenting any other children in the home. 
  • Recommendations will be included from specific individuals in the prospective adoptive families lives including teachers of any children in the home, religious leaders, colleagues, or friends. 
  • Information and documentation will be included on the current marriage if applicable and any divorces. Birth certificates will be included for all members of the household.
  • A plan for parenting the child including philosophy, educational outlook and plan, child-rearing, and discipline plan, and any education certificates for parenting and adoption courses. 
  • The physical and health history of every member of the family, including children. You will need to get your doctor, most likely, to notarize a medical form from a recent physical with your health history. If there is any history of counseling or mental health counseling or medication you may need a separate letter from your doctor. The same is true if there is any rare disease, cancer, or other maladies from which you have recovered. This is dependent on the time that has past, severity, the agency, and whether you are adopting domestically or through intercountry adoption.
  • The home study will also include prospective adoptive parents’ educational history, employment (historical and current), and finances. This will include asset and liabilities and salary information. You will also supply any insurance coverage the adopted child will be able to benefit from and your specific child care plans and educational plans for the baby or child.
  • Finally, the parents and any adults in the home will have a background check conducted in every state in which they have resided since the age of 18 and an FBI livescan fingerprint check. You will also need to supply a driving record from the DMV as a prospective adoptive parent.
  • Lastly, the licensed social worker in the prospective adoptive parent’s home state will complete a full summary after reviewing all of the compiled documentation and approve the family for adoption.

  1. Completing the adoption process and finalization

After you have reviewed who is eligible to adopt your baby through the Florida adoption process or if you are eligible to complete an adoption through the Florida adoption process yourself as a prospective adoptive parent, you will choose an adoption service provider to help complete the adoption. Adoption is a legally binding event in the state of Florida and all other states. Choose a great agency that will respect your choices and help you make the decision to create an adoption plan for your baby or build your family through adoption with the clean and intentional understanding that adoption is forever. As such, you have every right to change your mind at any time of the process before the final adoption consent paperwork is signed as either an adoptive parent or birth mother. Interestingly, the Florida adoption process requires that both birth parents consent to the adoption of the baby. If the birth father is unknown, your adoption agency or adoption attorney will review Florida’s putative father registry to see if the birth father can be found. If he is found by your agency whether or not through the putative father registry, he will have 60 days to confirm that he would in fact like to parent the baby. If the birth father is not found through any means the paternity is ruled as null and void, the birth mother may complete the Florida adoption process for her baby without his consent. 

When the birth mother is in labor with the baby, the adoption agency will share with the hopeful adoptive parents the birth plan the birth mother created in advance of delivery. The hospital and staff and prospective adoptive family will be clear of the birth mother’s wishes at every step of the labor and birth, Once the birth mother gives birth, she must wait at least 48 hours to sign the adoption consent paperwork which relinquishes her parental rights. If the birth father is known, he may give consent at any time prior to the birth (or after).

Those first 48 hours before the birth mother can sign the consent paperwork she may make all decisions for the baby as she is the legal parent. Some moms get to the end of the 48 hours in the Florida adoption process and decide to parent their baby and that’s okay. If the birth mother signs the adoption consent paperwork after 48 hours, the adoptive parents will become the legal parents and the birth mother will proceed with whatever level of communication was agreed upon at the start of the Florida adoption process. 

When a birth mother is unexpectedly expecting in Florida it can be very difficult. Having an understanding of the Florida adoption process can be helpful as you make a decision for your baby. As a prospective adoptive parent, understanding the laws, regulations, and Florida adoption process can give you peace as you too begin this journey of adoption.