What Do I Need to Know About Adoption?

Adoption is a life-changing process that creates a legal and permanent parent-child relationship between individuals who are not biologically related. If you are considering adoption in Florida, it is important to understand the key aspects of adoption and what is required to complete the process, and you should talk to a skilled Florida adoption attorney to discuss the essential things you need to know.

Types of Adoption in Florida

Florida offers various types of adoption, including private, identified, international, relative, adult, and stepparent adoptions. Private adoption occurs when an expectant mother chooses to place her child for adoption with adoptive parents who are not related to the child. An adoption attorney can facilitate the adoption process by matching prospective adoptive parents with the expectant mother, or birth mother.

The expectant mother or birth mother can select a family based on what she feels is in the best interest of her child. Many want to know that they share common interests, beliefs, and values. Prospective adoptive parents can be interviewed so that the mother has comfort in knowing she is making the right choice for her child.

Identified adoption is where the expectant mother or birth mother and prospective adoptive parents match themselves and ask an attorney to assist with completing the legal work. Typically identified adoptions are friends, coworkers, or distant relatives of the biological parents.

International adoption involves adopting a child from another country, following the regulations and procedures of both the United States and the child’s home country.

Relative adoptions require that the parties be related within three degrees of consanguinity.

Adult adoptions apply when the person being adopted is eighteen years old or older.

Stepparent adoption occurs when a stepparent wants to adopt their spouse’s child, with the consent of the other birth parent or through the termination of the other parent’s rights.

Eligibility to Adopt (private adoption)

To be eligible to adopt in Florida, individuals must meet certain criteria. Generally, they must be at least 18 years old and must be able to provide a safe and stable home for the child.

They must also complete a home study evaluation, which ensures that the child’s best interests are considered and that the prospective adoptive parents are prepared for the responsibilities of adoption. The home study will require potential adoptive parents to undergo background checks, including criminal history and child abuse registry checks, complete financial and medical clearances, and present letters of recommendation from friends and family. The home study must also remain current and must be periodically updated to ensure it remains compliant when taking placement of an adoptive child. It is important for people considering adoption to understand the legal process and all the requirements that have to be met to be able to get a home study approved.

Post-Adoption Supervision (private adoption)

Following the placement of a child with adoptive parents, Florida law requires a period of post-placement supervision. This involves visits from a licensed adoption professional (typically your home study provider) to assess the child’s well-being, adjustment to the new family, and the adoptive parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs. The duration and frequency of post-placement visits depend on the type of adoption and the requirements set by the court.

Access to Adoption Records

Florida law provides varying degrees of access to adoption records. In most cases, adoption records are sealed and confidential, with limited access to the adoptee, the adoptive parents, and certain authorized individuals. However, Florida law does allow for the release of non-identifying information to the adoptee upon request. Accessing adoption records typically begins by contacting the Clerk of Court where the adoption took place. Most states also have an Adoption Reunion Registry, which is a voluntary system where the birth parents and adoptive parents may register with their contact information to assist with locating each other should they fall out of contact.

Consult an Experienced Pensacola Adoption Lawyer Today

Adoption is a complex and rewarding journey, and people who want to learn more about adoption should seek guidance from an attorney. Clay H. Whittaker of Gulf Coast Adoptions is an experienced Pensacola adoption lawyer who can advise you of your options with regard to adoption and help you determine if adoption is right for you. With offices in Pensacola and Mobile, we frequently help people with adoption plans in cities throughout Florida and Alabama. You can reach out online to Gulf Coast Adoptions or call 850-999-7977.

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