Frequently asked questions
Considering adoption? You may have questions similar to ones asked by many other adoptive families. Those asked most often are listed here as a general guide. Because adoption is so complex, please contact us for answers to your specific questions.
It depends on many factors, some of which you can control––such as the characteristics of the child and the birth mother you’re willing to consider. Generally the timeframe will depend on how flexible you are with your requirements concerning health-related, cultural and other issues. We work with all races of adoptive parents and birth mothers. The timeframe of the process will vary depending on your requirements and birth mother availability.
The total cost of an adoption plan can vary widely depending on the type of the adoption (identified or unidentified), birth mother expenses, medical costs, if applicable, and other out-of-pocket costs. For unidentified adoptions (in which we provide matching and placement services with a birth mother), the total cost of an adoption plan can range from $27,000 to $45,000; an identified adoption will usually cost substantially less because you are locating your own birth mother.
A home study is an independent investigation required by all states to make sure that you meet all requirements to adopt. In Florida, the home study is valid for 12 months. If you haven’t had a home study, and wish to utilize our matching and placement services, you should wait to contact us until you have completed the home study process. However, if you have identified your own birth mother, and you do not have a home study, or need your existing home study updated, please let us know so we can help arrange it for you.
We recommend that you wait to contact us until after you have completed the home study process. We have a very short list of waiting families, and we prefer to work with families who are immediately prepared to accept placement of a child.
Absolutely. We are experts in placing children from Florida to other states outside of Florida. See Interstate Adoptions.
Yes. We assist birth mothers in all parts of Florida and throughout the country.
No. With regard to the termination of parental rights and finalization of the adoption, all legal work would be completed by our office, in a Florida court. However, many adoptive parents who live outside of Florida retain local counsel for added peace of mind. Please understand that we would serve as your attorney, and as such, represent your interests.
We try to obtain and share all available information from both birth parents, including detailed medical histories and family and social backgrounds. In most cases, medical records will be available from the OB/GYN and the hospital responsible for the birth mother’s care.
You’ll be asked to write a personal and confidential profile for us to give the birth mother, describing your hopes for the baby, resources you’ll provide, and details about your family.
In most cases, yes. Routine OB/GYN test results are usually available. Birth mothers are normally screened proactively for hepatitis, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as drug use. You may request additional testing, at your own cost, such as a sonogram. Be aware that amniocentesis is only performed if there’s a medical reason.
Florida instituted a Newborn Screening Program to screen, identify, diagnose, and manage newborns at risk for certain disorders.
Today, most birth and adoptive parents agree to regularly communicate during the pregnancy and meet at least once prior to the birth of the child. We recommend establishing a comfort level by being honest and having empathy, respect and understanding. Try to view the situation from the other person’s position – see it through their eyes. Avoid being demanding or requesting information that’s too personal or inappropriate. If you have a question and you’re not sure how to approach it, it’s best to let our office handle it.
Under Florida law, the Consent for Adoption cannot be signed until at least 48 hours after delivery, except if the birth mother is discharged by her doctor earlier. If birth is by caesarian section, there must be enough time for the birth mother to clear any narcotic pain medication from her system. This requirement ensures that she won’t be under the influence of the medication when she signs.
Assuming the child has been placed with the adoptive family, Florida law does not provide a grace period for children age six months or younger when the Consent for Adoption is signed. This means the adoption is considered permanent and cannot be revoked unless fraud or duress can be proved. For children older than six months, when the Consent for Adoption is signed, Florida law gives the birth mother three business days to change her mind for any reason. After that period, the adoption is considered permanent and cannot be revoked unless fraud or duress can be proved.
Under Florida law, a biological father who is aware of the pregnancy and wants to exercise his parental rights must generally pay a fair and reasonable portion of the birth mother’s expenses. We make every effort to contact biological fathers and encourage them to voluntarily sign a Consent for Adoption or an Affidavit of Nonpaternity. If the biological father refuses and is not married to the birth mother, we are required to notify him that the birth mother wishes to place the child for adoption; he will have 30 days to contest the adoption. If he fails to contest it in the specified timeframe, we will ask the Court to terminate his rights. If he successfully contests the adoption, he has the same rights as if he was married to the birth mother and can prevent the adoption from moving forward.
Virtually all adoptions are at-risk to some extent. It means adoptive parents run a risk of not successfully completing the adoption plan. The amount and extent of the risk will vary widely depending on the terms of the adoption plan and other factors. If you accept placement of a child, on condition that you may have to return the child to the biological parents if a Court fails to terminate biological father’s rights or finalize the adoption, this is deemed an at-risk placement. In addition, when a birth mother chooses adoption very late in her pregnancy, it often results in an at-risk placement.
In Florida, yes. Adoptive parents can provide living expenses while the birth mother is pregnant, and in some cases for up to six weeks after the baby is delivered.
Birth mothers sign an agreement promising to repay, but most are financially unable to follow through. If this occurs, you may be able to seek a court judgment requiring repayment. The judgment remains in force for 20 years and can be renewed for an additional 20-year period. You may also be able to write it off as a bad debt. We can provide guidance and referrals if necessary.
Under Florida law, adoptive families receive at least two post-placement supervision visits during the three months following placement. In most cases, the visits are handled by the same agency that completed your home study.
The finalization process can begin after the post-placement supervision period is completed. We will file a formal Petition for Adoption after the final judgment to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents has been entered. The final adoption hearing will be scheduled after we have received all post-placement reports. Usually this process is complete within six months of initial placement. If a birth parent is uncooperative or if the Court’s caseload is unusually heavy, it may take longer.
Yes, for the same reasons all new parents would want to update their wills: to name the child as a beneficiary of your estate, and to assign a guardian to protect the child and a conservator to protect his or her property. If you die without formalizing these wishes, a court will have to do this for you.
It stands for Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children—a uniform law that governs procedures and responsibilities for interstate adoptions in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Only if your adoption takes place across state lines and if you’re not already the child’s parent, step-parent, grandparent or other close relative.
The ICPC approval process starts when the child’s discharge paperwork and medical records are submitted along with other forms. Depending on your state and other variables, it can take up to 14 business days to process. For this reason, it’s important for one or both adoptive parents to plan to stay in the state where the child was born for at least two weeks.
We will need to know how to reach you at all times while the paperwork is being processed. That includes cellphone numbers and email addresses. Do not leave the state until you receive clearance to do so from our office. This can be a difficult waiting period, and we will do everything possible to minimize the wait. However, the wait for ICPC approval is generally out of our control. You will be contacted only when ICPC approval has been given.
The information provided above is based on Florida’s adoption law. It is a brief introduction to a very complex topic. This is not a complete dissertation of the law, is not tailored to a specific case, and you should not rely on this document. Moreover, the adoption law is relatively new and untested; therefore, this information may change as the courts interpret the law. When you have specific questions regarding your particular adoptive placement, please address them with our office, or another qualified adviser.