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Child Adoption

Last Modified: 01/10/2020

Adoption can permanently and legally end a child’s ties with their birth parents and relatives. There are different types of adoptions, including relative adoption, stepparent adoption, adult adoption, and non-relative adoption. Adoption may occur through a dependency court case. 

Adoption cases are either open or closed. Open adoptions allow birth parents to keep the right to communicate or visit the child. In closed adoptions, also called “confidential” adoptions, the record of the biological parent(s) and the original birth certificate are kept sealed. The birth parents do not have communication or visitation rights. Each type of adoption requires different documents and procedures to follow. 

CLSMF cannot give legal advice or representation to people seeking to adopt a child. Adoption is a complicated area of the law, so it is best to consult with an attorney before filing for adoption. 

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS?

An “Adoptive Parent” is the term for a parent who has adopted a child.

An adoptive parent takes the legal position of the birth parents by assuming the birth parents’ rights and responsibilities over the child.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?

The Florida Supreme Court has approved forms that can be used to file a stepparent adoption on your own. The forms can be found at www.flcourts.org under the self-help section of the site and contain detailed instructions to help you complete and file them. 

For other forms of adoption, you will likely need a lawyer to assist you. The Florida Bar Referral Service, which can be found online at lrs.floridabar.org, or by telephone at 1-800-342-8011, can help you find an adoption lawyer. 

Regardless of whether you are adopting a child through a private agency, a public agency, or from another country, nearly all families must complete a Home Study process before adopting a child. There are a few exceptions. For example, stepparents adopting their spouses’ children may not need a Home Study. The primary purpose of a Home Study is to ensure that the child is placed with a family that can best meet their needs. This process can help educate prospective adoptive parents about the type of adoption they are pursuing so they can make informed decisions that are best for their family.

WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING ACTION?

Because adoption permanently and legally ends a child’s ties with their birth parents and relatives, the adoption may change the child’s right to inheritance from their birth family. Once adopted, the adopted child has the same rights of inheritance as a biological child in their new family. Keep in mind, if you have a long-term foster child that you have not legally adopted, then the foster child does not have the same inheritance rights as your biological children.

Certain children of Native American descent are subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act, and in certain circumstances, the tribe could become involved in the adoption. For more information regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act go to https://www.bia.gov/bia/ois/dhs/icwa.

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