Who can Adopt in Florida?
Adoption is a beautiful opportunity to help a child in need and expand one’s family. However, one must meet specific regulations under Florida law before adopting. Adopters can be single or married, heterosexual or homosexual, be 21 years old, or be senior citizens. Florida also requires that adults who want to adopt must work and live in the state, possess good character, and have the resources to provide for an adopted child. If you meet these requirements, then you are eligible to adopt according to the state. However, certain private adoption agencies may have requirements in addition to those listed above.
Who is Ineligible for Adoption in Florida
The state of Florida also has a set of limitations that stop certain people from being able to adopt. For example, individuals a court convicts of the following crimes are ineligible to adopt:
- Violent crime
- Domestic abuse
- Child abuse
- Sexual abuse
If a person has committed one or more of these crimes, they will fail to pass the background check, which is part of the “home-study” portion of the adoption process.
Other Requirements for Adoption
If potential adopters meet the initial criteria and have no criminal record, they are halfway there. There are specific other requirements that one must satisfy first before someone becomes fully eligible:
- The adopter must submit recent medical records to ensure that they are of good health to provide stability for the adopted child
- Adopters must submit recent financial records to demonstrate their financial ability and responsibility. However, Florida has financial resources available to parents adopting from the foster care system.
- The adopter must demonstrate emotional stability and preparedness. The adoption professional will assess emotional readiness by communicating the responsibilities and concerns of adoption.
Next Steps (Public Adoption)
A potential parent is ready to adopt if they meet all initial and secondary requirements. Adoption processes differ depending on whether the adopter prefers a public or private agency. These are the necessary steps for potential parents using a public or government agency, also known as the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF):
- Finding a Worker: If a potential adopter already has an adoptee in mind, they can call 1800-96-ADOPT, which will connect them to an adoption worker in the area. This worker will assist with the initial process, which includes scheduling a home study.
- Orientation Session: The potential adopter will then participate in an orientation session and communicate with parents who have experienced the process beforehand. Experienced parents and counselors will outline the entire process. This orientation will usually take around 2 hours.
- Necessary Courses: Potential adopters must enroll and take preparatory courses designed to explore challenges and aid in self-assessment. The adoptive parent preparation courses are mandatory, but several additional adoption education courses are available throughout Florida.
- Home Study: Next, an adoption agent will conduct a home study to determine whether the new environment is safe and secure for the potential adoptee. An adoption worker will visit the home to ask about parenting style, reasons for wanting to adopt, and the strength of the family relationship. The agency will also require background checks on individuals in the home and references demonstrating good character at this step of the process.
- Approval: The agency will create a home study packet for the requesting individual, and they will notify them when they receive a notice of acceptance.
- Recruitment: The potential adopter can actively look for a child to adopt by visiting adoption centers and recruitment activities. It is acceptable to let the adoption worker know if they have a child in mind.
- Spending Time: When the child becomes comfortable, they can meet the potential parents face-to-face. At this time, both parties can learn about each other and become more comfortable. The adoptive parents can also meet with the child’s birth parents to learn more about the child and their individual needs. If all goes well, these visits become longer and longer.
- Supervision Period: The agency will place the child in the adoptive home, and an adoption worker visits monthly to check on the child’s adjustment and wellbeing. This time is also known as the supervision period.
- Becoming Part of the Family: The adoptive parents’ attorney or case manager will schedule a hearing following the supervision period, usually about six months. The judge will finalize the adoption at the hearing, and the child will legally become part of the family.
Next Steps (Private Adoption)
An alternative route that potential adopters use is by contacting private adoption agencies. Adopting through a private agency is not as predictable as adopting through a public one since each private agency is a little different. However, there are certain commonalities that potential adopters can expect:
- A private agency will be more expensive than a public agency, which often reimburses funds such as hiring an attorney. On the other hand, private adoptions can range from $10,000 to $30,000.
- Private agencies are more straightforward and hassle-free. There will be fewer required classes and interviews. However, Florida law still requires a home study to take place.
- Finding an adoptee can be a more personalized experience, as the potential adopters can require the worker to consider more specific, particular criteria.
If all of these aspects make a private adoption sound more appealing than a public one, then there are licensed private agencies that a potential adoptive family can reach online, by phone, or in person. Contacting a worker from these agencies is the universal first step in the adoption process, which can otherwise differ from agency to agency.
Can a Person with an Expunged Record Adopt?
If you have a record of violence and want to adopt, you should consider reaching out to a domestic violence attorney in Florida. They may provide solutions or help you get your record expunged or sealed to meet eligibility requirements for adoption.
Which Children are Eligible for Financial Funding in the Adoption Process?
The state terms particular children “special needs,” which entails their adoptive parents are eligible for financial assistance in the adoption process. “Special needs” does not mean that the child has a disability and includes children who have the following qualities:
- Is eight years or older
- Is racially mixed or African American
- Has heavy emotional ties to caregiver
- Has a mental, emotional, for physical handicap
- Has siblings who were placed in adoption together
What Can One Expect from a Adoption Home Study?
The home study process can be rigorous, but it is vital to complete the adoption. One can expect the agency to assess the following aspects of their eligibility:
- Will the caregiver need additional support?
- Is the physical environment safe for the adoptee?
- Does the caregiver have a background that disqualifies them?
- Does the caregiver possess sufficient financial resources to care for the child?
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one is looking to adopt a child in Florida, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further inquiries. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.