Adoption can be a wonderful, emotional and fulfilling experience for many people wanting to start or add to their family. Ian C. Hurley can help you navigate the legal system to ensure your adoption runs smoothly.
If a minor is given up for adoption to an adoption agency, the agency becomes the child’s legal guardian. Section 63.092 requires the agency to report any placement of a child with someone who is not a relative or stepparent. Even extended family is deemed an “at-risk placement” if the birth parents have not terminated their parental rights. The court may require a home study to ensure it is a stable and secure option.
A home study often involves:
A favorable home study may result in placement of the minor in the adoptive home while the final adoption is pending. When the adoption becomes final, the adopted child becomes eligible for the adoptive parents benefits. But a birth parent must still pay unpaid child support accrued prior to the termination of parental rights.
Chapter 63 of the Florida Adoption Act governs the adoption of children by stepparents. Section 63.042 states that any minor or adult may be adopted by an unmarried adult, a husband and wife “jointly,” or a married person whose spouse is the parent whose consent has been excused “for good cause” by the court. The court has authority over adoptive minors until the adoption becomes final. But before the adoption takes place, § 63.062 requires the child’s biological parents consent to terminate their parental rights. This requires notifying the child’s birth mother and in some cases, the father, depending on paternity-related factors:
If the child’s biological father has not met the requirements to establish paternity, he waives his legal rights to the child and his consent is not needed. If both birth parents waive their rights, stepparents may file a joint petition and start the adoption process, Form 12.981(b)(1), with supporting documents, including the consent to terminate parental rights, the child’s birth certificate, a Uniform Child Custody Act affidavit, and if applicable, the parent’s death certificate. In contested cases, § 63.054 requires that adoptive parents perform a search of the Florida Putative Father Registry.