Florida Adoption Services
Most standard adoptions in Florida are a two-step process, first, termination of parental rights of the birth parent(s) (except in Second Parent Adoption) and, second, adoption of the child by the adoptive parent(s). This process both severs the legal relationship between the child and the birth parent(s) and creates a legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parent(s).
Florida Statutes Chapter 63 provides the legal framework for adoption, which is intended to, “protect and promote the well-being of persons being adopted and their birth and adoptive parents.”
Under Florida law, the following are permitted to adopt: Adults who live and work in the state, are of good character, and have the ability to nurture and provide for a child may adopt. Single adults, as well as married couples, may adopt. A stepparent may adopt his or her spouse’s children. In 2010, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that the statutory ban prohibiting homosexuals from adopting a child is unconstitutional. A person may not be prohibited from adopting solely because of a physical disability unless it is determined that the disability renders the person incapable of being an effective parent.
Many potential adoptive parents wonder whether a birth parent can change their mind to keep the child once they are born. The answer varies depending on the age of the child being placed for adoption. Under Florida law, when a child under the age of six months is placed for adoption, the biological mother may not sign her consent for adoption until forty-eight hours after the child’s birth or on her date of discharge from the hospital whichever time is earlier. The birth father may consent to the adoption at any time after the child’s birth. Additionally, a legal or biological father may sign an irrevocable Affidavit of Non-Paternity at any time, before or after the child’s birth, relinquishing his parental rights. When a child is six months of age or older, the birth mother and father may sign the consent to adoption at any time, however, their consent is subject to a revocation period of 3 business days. Regarding all termination of parental right consents, once the consents are properly signed by the birth parents, and the revocation period has passed (if applicable), only the court can overturn the consents to adoption upon a finding that the consents were taken by fraud or duress.
Second Parent Adoptions Under Florida Law
Since Gestational Surrogacy Agreements are limited to heterosexual and same sex married couples and cannot be used by individuals or unmarried couples, the process in which the non-biological partner obtains full parental rights to the child (and the biological parent retains all parental rights) is through the process of Second Parent Adoption. Without utilizing a Second Parent Adoption, the non-biological parent in the same sex relationship has no legal rights to the child. Therefore, it is important to consult with a lawyer familiar with this process to ensure that all parties are adequately protected and both same sex partners obtain full parental rights to the child.
The process for Second Parent Adoption, which can take approximately 2-3 months from filing the adoption petition, is similar to a standard adoption (however the biological parent maintains all parental rights with a Second Parent Adoption) which involves filing an adoption petition, fingerprinting, background checks, a home study, obtaining the necessary consents to terminate parental rights from the necessary parties, a search of the putative father registry to ensure nobody else claims parents’ rights to the child, a final adoption hearing and judgment, and ultimately placing both parents on the child’s birth certificate.