All About Adoption
“No matter what you’ve done for yourself or for humanity, if you can’t look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished?” Lee Iacocca
There are hundreds of children in Florida who surely feel unloved, worthless and unwanted as they travel between foster homes or family members who cannot offer them a permanent home. That fact breaks my heart. For this reason, I truly admire and respect men and women who open their hearts and homes to children who have been abandoned, abused, neglected or forgotten by their birth parents. Not only do I respect their dedication and capacity for love, but for their courage in embarking on the process of adoption, which is no small task.
There are four types of adoption in Florida: Entity adoption; Step-parent adoption; Close Relative adoption; and Adult adoption. While adult adoptions do occur, they are generally less frequent and due to maturity of the person being adopted, do not require the consent of the biological parents. The adoption of minor children, however, does and, because of that, the process can be daunting. Generally, the following are the steps in the process of a child adoption:
- The prospective parents participate in a training course to learn about issues parents of adoption may face.
- The prospective parents complete an application, undergo a physical examination, health screening, background check, criminal record check, employment verification, and reference check.
- There will be a home-study of the prospective parents’ home on more than one occasion to determine if your home is safe, suitable for all children, or perhaps, better suited for one child, multiple children, a particular range of age, etc.
- Once the prospective parents’ application is approved, they will need to be matched with a child (or children) that is (are) available for adoption. The prospective parents participate in this process but are generally guided by an agency affiliate.
- If an agency is involved, they may have obtained the consent to adoption from the biological parents in advance. If they have not or if there was no agency involvement with the child, a child cannot be adopted until there has been notice of an intent to adopt and consent by the biological parents or a termination of their parental rights.
- If a child is matched with prospective parents and there has not been consent by the biological parents, the child or children may still be placed with the prospective parents during the pendency of the proceedings.
- During this placement, a counselor/social worker will conduct regular visits to the home to ensure the child’s (or children’s) needs are met, the family is bonding, and the child’s (or children’s) best interest are being protected.
- After parental rights have been terminated, the prospective parents will be required to file a Petition for Adoption. At a final hearing scheduled before a Judge on the prospective parents’ petition, the Court will award the prospective parents full legal rights of the child and they will become the child/children’s legal parents.
Where the child/children are adopted by relatives or step-parents and where the parents’ parental rights have already been terminated, the process moves much more quickly and may not require home studies after placement and before the adoption hearing. Regardless, the process is not for the faint of heart. As in any proceeding affecting the structure of one’s family unit, emotions play a role... good and bad... sometimes at the same time.
At the end of the process, however, adoptive parents have given the gift of family to children without one. They give children a home, a place to belong and people to whom they belong for the rest of their life. That is the most precious and enduring gift a human can give.