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What Is Adoption?

Adoption is the legal procedure by which the legal relationship between a child and his or her biological parents is terminated, and a legal parent-child relationship is thereafter created between parties who are not related. Once the adoption process is complete, the adopted child is treated as a blood descendant of the adoptive parents, and the adoptive parents obtain all of the parental obligations that they would have had if the child was naturally born to them.

Who May Be an Adoptive Parent?

In Florida, both married persons and unmarried persons who live and work within the state may become adoptive parents. A spouse of the parent of the child to be adopted can also become an adoptive parent provided that the child’s biological parents provide consent.

If an individual who primarily lives and works outside of Florida desires to adopt a child in Florida, such individual will only be able to do so if one of the following circumstances exists: (i) the biological parent of the child has filed an affidavit which states that he or she has chosen to place the child for adoption and provide his or her explanation for same; (ii) the out-of-state adoptive parent is a stepparent or a relative; (iii) the child is a special needs child; or (iv) other good cause exists.

Same-Sex Parents May Now Adopt

The prior version of the adoption statute stated that “no person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.” This language was removed from the statute on July 1, 2015. See F.S. 63.042. This change has had a huge impact on same-sex couples seeking to adopt children.

The Adoption Process

An adoption proceeding is initiated by the filing of a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child’s biological parents. A petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption cannot be filed until the child has been born. After the birth of a child, a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child’s biological parents can be filed by a parent of the child or by an adoption agency if the parent(s) of the child provide written consent to the adoption agency’s filing of the petition. It is important to note that child’s grandparent(s) must be notified before the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights if the child that is being placed for adoption lived with his or her grandparent(s) for at least six months within the two-year period preceding the filing of the petition.

A hearing on the petition to terminate parental rights must take place before the court can enter an order granting the petition and terminating the parental rights of a biological parent.