Florida defines adoption as the action of legally and permanently electing to take custody of a minor who is not a biological child. Individuals who adopt a child are required to go through an extensive adoption process. The process of adoption varies for every person or couple as each child has their own unique needs and circumstances. As an adoptive parent, obtaining the counsel of a family law attorney in Gainesville, FL, can help you navigate the adoption process. Our adoption attorneys are experienced with handling the intricacies of adoption through a compassionate approach.
Who Can Adopt?
The state of Florida approaches the candidacy of an adoptive parent with an open mind. Only certain restrictions may bar an individual from being able to adopt, such as having certain felony criminal records. Overall, an individual or couple that is interested in adopting a child must have the ability to love and care for the child; a willingness to make a lifelong commitment to the child; and have the ability to provide basic care to the child.
The Adoption Process
Prospective adoptive parents are required to complete the following actions successfully before being eligible to adopt:
- Reach out to an adoption worker
- Complete an orientation meeting that details the entire adoption process
- Successfully complete adoptive parent preparation courses
- Undergo a home study, which includes ensuring the home is safe for a child and a comprehensive background check of all adults living in the household
Prospective adoptive parents will have all the information from their relative coursework, home study, and background checks compiled into a packet and submitted to an adoption specialist. The adoption specialist will then review the contents of the packet to issue approval to the individual(s).
Once approved, adoptive parents are able to attend recruitment activities in which children available for adoption are in attendance. Eventually, adoptive parents are matched with a child and will have the ability to learn about the child’s background, personality and begin preparing for an initial visit. Adoptive parents may choose to create items such as photo albums for the child to view prior to the initial meeting. Once the child feels ready, an initial visit will occur; subsequently, longer visits will occur until the adoptive parents, child and social worker all feel that the child is ready for extended visits and placement supervision. During placement supervision, an adoption worker will visit the home to assess the child’s adjustment. When working with an attorney, the social worker will provide consent to adopt approval to your attorney. Your Gainesville, FL, lawyer will then schedule a hearing before a judge to legalize the adoption so that your child is now legally and officially a part of your family.
What Are The Types Of Adoption?
There are many types of adoptions in Florida you must be educated and familiar with as an adoptive parent.
Currently, the majority of adoptions in Florida are open adoptions; this allows for a chosen level of openness between birth mother and adoptive parents. Open adoptions have a level of communication with the birth mother, such as:
- Exchanging contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers
- Direct communication through phone calls, Skype calls, letters, etc.
- Family visits
Each open adoption is unique and the exact level of openness and channels of communication will likely vary.
In instances where a closed adoption is chosen by the birth mother, there is little to no information shared with the adoptive parents and adopted child.
In some instances, a birth mother may opt to have a less open adoption, which correlates to a semi-open adoption. Typically, in a semi-open adoption, the names of the birth and adoptive parents are exchanged and the medical history of both birth parents is provided to the adoptee. Any further communication that is agreed upon will also be included.
An adoptive parent chooses to adopt a child from a foreign country in this adoption type.
This instance occurs when a biological parent gives up their parental rights and the step-parent elects to adopt the child.
Military & Overseas Adoption
A military and overseas adoption occur when a child is adopted by either military personnel or overseas employees.
Special Needs Adoption
Please note that special needs adoption is not a direct indicator of a child with any specific disability, although this may be included. Rather, this adoption type indicates that the state of Florida has deemed that the child meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Has significant emotional ties with foster parent(s) or a relative caregiver(s)
- African American or of a mixed race
- Eight years of age or older
- Member of a sibling group placed for adoption as a unit
- Mentally, physically and/or emotionally handicapped
In an adult adoption, another adult is able to adopt an adult that is not their birth parent. For example, an adult may choose to adopt a senior citizen.
In this adoption type, a child is under the care of a foster parent while the rights of the biological parents are determined. Should the biological parents have their parental rights removed, the foster parent will adopt the child.
This adoption type details that a child is being adopted by a family member, however not a birth parent.
Waiting Child Adoption
A waiting child adoption indicates the adoption is in process.
In this instance, an adoptive parent chooses to adopt a baby at birth or while in the stages of infancy.
Older Child Adoption
Older child adoptions pertain to children over two years.
How A Family Law Attorney Can Help
Our adoption attorneys in Gainesville, FL, are experienced in the many legalities and lengthy processes of adoption. Deciding to adopt is an extremely personal choice and the basis for choosing to adopt varies widely. Overall, the adoption process can be a very stressful and emotional time for prospective adoptive parents. The attorneys at The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates are compassionate, understanding and prepared to guide you throughout the entirety of the adoption process. Regardless of the adoption type or stage in the adoption process, our lawyers are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for both you and the child you are longing to adopt.