Adoption Process in Florida

As a person considering adopting a baby or a woman considering placing baby for adoption, the best place to begin is getting a better understanding of how the adoption process works in Florida.

Here is a step-by-step look at Florida’s adoption process to either adopt or place a baby for adoption:

1. Determine if You are Ready to Pursue Adoption

Adoption is a permanent, life-long decision, and one that prospective adoptive parents or birth mothers must carefully consider before making it a reality. Florida adoption law permits most anyone to adopt or place a child without restrictions on age sexual orientation.

  • An adoptive parent must determine whether they are ready to move on from having a baby biologically and begin taking the next steps of adopting a baby. Only when both hopeful parents are ready and share the same goals for their adoption should they take the next step. If a spouse or partner isn’t entirely ready, they may still contact an adoption attorney or agency to help take this next step in the decision-making process.
  • A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy has the option of parenting, abortion or adoption. During the next several days or weeks, she should consider these options and decide which will be best for her and her baby’s future. If she is interested in adoption but not entirely ready to commit to an adoption plan, she may contact an adoption attorney or agency to understand her rights and how the adoption process works in Florida.

2. Find Your Ideal Adoption Situation

In today’s adoptions, both adoptive families and birth parents have the opportunity of finding the perfect adoption situation that meets their goals and the life they envision once the adoption is completed. This step may be thought about and discussed before or after contacting an adoption attorney or agency.

  • Adoptive parents will want to consider things such as how much they have to spend on an adoption, the types of birth mothers they want to work with and child they want to adopt in regards to race, medical considerations, etc; how much contact they are willing to share with the birth parents, and much more. When considering these adoption situations, adoptive parents must remember that the more restrictive they are when looking for a birth mother, the more difficult it may be to find a woman who meets their specific adoption plan.
  • A woman considering adoption may select any adoptive parents of her choosing, who will provide her child with the life she has envisioned. She may work with an adoption attorney or adoption agency, or find adoptive parents on her own, and may choose them based on race, age, location, family size, family traditions, religion, and more.

3.  Begin Legal Process

Once a “match” is found between an adoptive family and birth mother, the legal process will begin. An adoption attorney will file the adoption with the local court, and during the next several weeks of the Florida adoption process will:

  • Seek and receive approval with the court for any expenses over $5,000
  • Work on consent documents for the birth mother to sign 48 hours after birth of the baby
  • Speak with the birth father about his rights if necessary
  • Finalize the adoption
  • And much more

4. Exchange Contact

Many modern day adoptions see adoptive parents and birth parents getting to know one another before the birth of the child. This “pre-placement contact,” which ranges from phone calls, to emails to even personal meetings, may be mediated by an adoption attorney or agency and serves as a great way for both parties to feel comfortable with their match.

  • Adoptive parents may decide not to pursue these “open” types of relationships, but with so many birth parents seeking semi-open or fully open adoptions, they may have a difficult time finding an adoption opportunity. Furthermore, adoptive families may get just as much out of this interaction as do the birth parents.
  • Birth parents may request pre-placement contact with the adoptive family to get to know them better before finalizing their decision.

5. Complete Placement and Finalize the Adoption

All of the sacrifice by the birth mother, preparation by the adoptive family, case management and support provided by an adoption specialist, and legal work prepared by an adoption attorney now culminates at the hospital for the birth of the baby.

Once the child is born, and the required 48 hours passes required by Florida law, the birth mother is able to legally consent to the adoption by signing the paperwork prepared by the adoption attorney. The adoptive family will then receive physical custody of their child.

Post-placement visits will then begin for the adoptive family within a week of returning home with the baby, and generally four total are required before finalization.

After the required number of post-placement visits have occurred, ICPC and ICWA clearances are collected, and the birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated, a finalization hearing will occur in which the adoptive family will receive legal custody of their child. They will receive the final adoption decree and will then register for a new Florida birth certificate for their child.