While adoption is a joyful and exciting experience, the legal process can be complicated and tedious. If you are seeking to adopt a child in Gainesville, Lake City, Live Oak or anywhere else in this region of Florida, the family law attorneys at Koberlein Law Offices can help.
An Overview of the Adoption Process
Although each adoption varies given the individual circumstances surrounding each adoption, the adoption process in Florida generally involves the following steps:
- Calling an adoption agency and being assigned a caseworker who will help you start the adoption process;
- Attending a mandatory adoptive parent preparation course, which lasts for several months, to learn about adoption and ensure that you are ready to adopt;
- Having a home study performed, wherein a caseworker will talk to you about your motives behind adoption and ensure that you are in a position to provide a child with a stable living environment;
- Being approved for adoption and finding a child to adopt;
- Having the child placed in your home for a preliminary period of several months, wherein a caseworker will ensure that the child is adjusting comfortably to his or her new home;
- Finding an adoption attorney to help you legally adopt the child; and
- Lastly, finalizing the adoption via a hearing in front of a family court judge, wherein parental rights are granted.
Termination of Parental Rights
In order to adopt a child in Florida, the parental rights of the child's birth parents must be terminated, meaning that the birth-parents are legally relinquished of all duties and responsibilities as parents. Termination of parental rights can occur in two ways:
- The biological parents consent to adoption and voluntarily terminate parental rights to the child; or
- The biological parents abused, neglected, or abandoned the child, and parental rights are terminated by the court.
Once you legally adopt a child, the parental rights of the child's birth parents are extinguished, and you obtain full parental responsibilities of the child.
Step-Parent Adoption in Florida
If you entered into a relationship where your spouse already had children, you may be considering adopting your step-children. In Florida, step-parents are allowed to adopt their step-children as long as certain criteria are met and procedural steps are followed.
The most common setback in step-parent adoption is the requirement that the non-custodial parent consent to the adoption. If you are the step-father to your step-children, for example, and want to adopt your step-children, the birth father of your step-children must give his consent in order for you to do so. Certain exceptions apply to this rule, such as your step-children's birth father abandoning the children or the birth father being declared mentally incompetent.
Once you have successfully adopted your step-children, you will share parental rights with your spouse and are legally allowed to raise your step-children as if they were your own.
Looking to Adopt a Child? We Can Help.
If you have made the decision to adopt a child in Florida, the family law attorneys at Koberlein Law Offices are happy to assist in this joyous process. Adoption can be complicated and time-consuming, but an experienced family law attorney can help to streamline the process and take the confusion out of adoption. To speak with a family law attorney about your adoption plans, fill out an online contact form or call the Koberlein law office closest to you today.